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Harry Ramsden's

Harry Ramsden's
Often accompanied by:Little Chef, Fresh Express, Caffè Ritazza, Subway
Used by:Moto, Welcome Break, Little Chef
Predecessors:Eat In, Papa John's Pizza
Successors:Bar & Grill, The Good Breakfast, Chopstix Noodle Bar
Typical opening hours:Most 11:30am-7pm

Harry Ramsden's has been rolled out across the UK motorway network twice: once in partnership with Granada, and once in partnership with Welcome Break.

As the main brand continues to stagnate, the motorway franchises would be many people's only contact with it. All motorway sites have since closed.

Granada Partnership

Burton-in-Kendal flags.
An advert for Harry Ramsden's at a Moto service area.

Two Harry Ramsden's waitress restaurants were opened at Granada service areas in around 1995: one at Hilton Park, and one in the hotel adjoining Exeter.

These were described as a new brand trial and the Hilton Park one was initially described as being very successful. Granada were open to rolling it out to more sites. They also trialled Harry Ramsden's inside Little Chefs, but they decided Burger King would be a better fit in such a small space.

Granada agreed to operate franchised Harry Ramsden's kiosks in a £20million deal in 1999. They later purchased the entire chain and introduced a Harry Ramsden's restaurant to most of their service areas. They said they liked the way it catered for business customers on weekdays, and families on weekends.

Granada introduced the pager system used by many busy restaurants to their service areas, so that customers could spend time in their shopping areas while waiting for their food to be prepared.

After Granada merged with Compass, they again suggested Harry Ramsden's operate alongside Little Chef, but this time as part of a new format called Little Chef Choices. This was withdrawn in 2004 with Harry Ramsden's commenting that it was diluting the identity of both brands.

By 2005, Moto were starting to remove Harry Ramsden's from the former Granada service areas, in favour of other franchises. Harry Ramsden's later said they wanted to be recognised as a restaurant in their own right, and not as part of a larger chain. The Exeter branch lasted until 2013, long after the other motorway sites had closed.

An average meal at a service station Harry Ramsden's in 2005 costed nearly £8, drawing criticism at the time.

Welcome Break Partnership

Harry Ramsden's made a return to the motorway network in December 2013 when Welcome Break opened one at Woodall southbound. Since then, Welcome Break announced they would be removing all of their Eat In restaurants, replacing them with Harry Ramsden's franchises. A 10-year contract was agreed.

Welcome Break's food courts were soon updated across the country, seeing Harry Ramsden's normally joined by Starbucks, Subway and Tossed. Among this line-up, Harry Ramsden's acted as the main restaurant option, and before 11am it offered an extensive breakfast menu with the option of buying rolls as takeaway. Welcome Break had previously commented that after breakfasts, their most popular meal was fish and chips, making Harry Ramsden's a suitable catering brand.

Welcome Break also introduced Harry Ramsden's to some Extra-branded service areas, where Welcome Break had agreed to provide the catering.

During 2017, the Fleet branch was destroyed in a fire, so Harry Ramsden's supplied a branded van from which their food could be served. The replacement was one of very few motorway sites to use the blue 'Harry Ramsden' branding, as opposed to the more familiar red colours.

In line with most service station franchises, Welcome Break suspended their Harry Ramsden's offering on 21 March 2020, in response to COVID-19. Most Harry Ramsden's units began to be changed to The Good Breakfast in June 2020. While a few branches did later reopen, most didn't follow until October 2020. That reopening was short-lived, as the second lockdown caused them to close again on 5 November 2020.

By spring 2022, Welcome Break had 10 Harry Ramsden's stores operating, but with The Good Breakfast providing the breakfast menu. These stores were all removed by 30 August 2022, allowing the Harry Ramsden's element to be replaced by Chopstix Noodle Bar.


Harry Ramsden's operated at the following service areas: