While Dover Port has never actually been a motorway service area (it's only accessible to port traffic and not passers-by), its facilities look and are managed like one. That's because its restaurants and shops have always been outsourced to motorway service area operators.
This page describes those operations only, not the whole of Dover Port itself.
Moto Retail Catering
Trivia and History
Forte won a contract to provide the catering and retail services at Dover's Eastern Docks which commenced on 9 June 1990, under the Welcome Break brand. Welcome Break were taken over by Granada, who have now been rebranded Moto, and each operator updated their offer to remain in line with the rest of their motorway sites.
Internally, the only differences between the terminal facilities and their cousins on the motorways are that the shops stock more items related to driving in Europe, the dining areas display departure information and there are more currency exchanges. Externally, the buildings are managed by Port of Dover.
Unlike their predecessors, Moto don't display their own branding very prominently at all, preferring to use the Burger King logo instead. Until 2010, Moto didn't list Dover in any of their publicity, making their operation here a bit of a secret for only the most devoted Moto fans.
The Terminal 1 building was built for use by Welcome Break, as part of a £2.5m investment. The main facility was a Granary restaurant, with a shop and toilets, all arranged along a corridor. A Bureau de Change was also provided.
Additional toilets were provided at the back because the building was only open during the daytime. Outside, the roof extended to one side, where it acted as a coach interchange. The main entrance was a revolving door positioned in one corner. The roof was initially painted yellow, but soon painted Dover's green.
As with most Welcome Break locations, David Fisher was commissioned to paint some artwork. At Dover the mural was dedicated to the destinations served from the port.
The facility became property of Granada when they took over the company in 1995. Although Granada were forced to sell all the Welcome Break motorway service areas, this wasn't a motorway service area so instead it was able to become Granada branded. The restaurant became Fresh Express, with a Burger King, and a Gscape game arcade was added. A Little Chef Express was believed to be there for a while too.
This building was then run by their successors, Moto. The Granada logo was taken down and replaced by a sign saying "Food Village"; this name was also promoted online using Dover Port's blue colour scheme. Internally it became known as "Passenger Service Building East".
The main restaurant became Moto's EDC and Caffè Ritazza combination, which were later replaced by Costa. The shop became WHSmith. A report dated 2006 stated that Moto were managing a bar and a Franklin's of Boston here, too. The bar was most likely Barnacles Bar, which moved here from Terminal 2.
As part of Dover's Brexit management plan, the Terminal 1 building was demolished in June 2021. At the time, fireman's switch on the building was still labelled "Granada", while the original brown tiled flooring was still used throughout the main corridor.
Terminal 2 is believed to be the old freight terminal. It was built in the 1980s, and is believed to be the original location of Barnacles Bar.
It carried Welcome Break branding by the 1990s, perhaps becoming their first operation at Dover. It had a very tall roof, and dark tiling inside. Dover's distinctive flyover system, known as The Fan, was built around it leaving Terminal 2 permanently sat in a dark shadow.
It was extended in the 1990s with a new lobby, and carried Granada branding during their tenure.
A report from 2006 stated that Moto operated a shop and a Franklin's of Boston in Terminal 2. A sign outside had a number of covered-up logos, including what looked like Burger King.
The building was demolished in 2008. As of 2021, some internal Moto documents still list Dover Terminal 2 as one of their sites.
A second catering building was built for use by Moto in 2004. This one was in Terminal 3, branded "Broadwalk Shopping", but known internally as "Passenger Service Building West".
It used a more modern, tall design with a glass front and seating spread over two levels, with the second level acting as a viewing platform. Similar facilities were offered inside: Burger King, Caffè Ritazza, Gscape game arcade, a Travelex Bureau de Change and a shopping area which used the Broadwalk name.
The Terminal 3 facilities were updated as with the rest of Moto's estate, with the coffee shop becoming Costa, the shop becoming WHSmith and the arcade becoming Full Hou$e. Until 2016, a Caffè Ritazza outlet was still advertised on the big screens next to each dock, even though it hadn't existed as part of the facilities for some time.
Moto also operated a Caffè Ritazza and a shop in the Dover Travel Centre. The building itself opened in the early 1980s, but it's not clear when the motorway operators first became involved. The Travel Centre was the 'land' side of Eastern Docks and was built underneath a car park, making the building itself difficult to see.
The Travel Centre closed in April 2014, but tenants were moved to the Passenger Handling Building. It's understood that Moto still provides catering here.
In addition to the terminal facilities described here, Dover Port used to sell fuel too. It wasn't ran by any of the operators discussed so far, but was branded Mobil (later BP) and positioned at the entrance to the docks. This was closed in about 2004.
In 2007, Welcome Break returned to the market by taking on a similar site a few miles down the road in the Eurotunnel. They left this in 2013.
|Folkestone (M20, 14 miles)||Services on the A20||end of road|
|Medway (M2, 39 miles)|
Harbledown (A2 southbound, 20 miles)
Gate (21 miles)
|Services on the A2||end of road|
|Medway (M2, 39 miles)|
Thurrock (M25 north, 67 miles)
|Moto services||end of roads|