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Red Hen

Red Hen
Predecessors:Little Chef
Successors:Coffee Primo
Red Hen, country style cooking.
The original Red Hen logo.
Red Hen.
The later logo.

Red Hen was an own-brand sit-down waitress restaurant available at all Welcome Break services.

Its story starts about 10 years before it was created, when Welcome Break were adding their sister brand Little Chef to most of their services. In 1995 the two were purchased, along with a number of other Forte brands, by Granada. The Monopolies and Mergers Commission ruled that Welcome Break needed to be sold, and the new owners would have six months to remove all traces of anything Granada now owned.

As a result, Welcome Break's Little Chef restaurants all became Red Hen. The new brand would be an important part of the new Welcome Break identity. They used a farm-inspired theme to provide food from The Granary, but served by a waitress, freeing up The Granary to become more self-service. When The Granary was removed, Red Hen evolved to lose the farm theme and focus on the fresh food. The revised menu was praised for being varied and reasonably priced, but the quality varied.

By the 2000s, sit-down dining was falling out of fashion at service stations, and some of the first evidence of this was in 2004, when all the Red Hens closed. Many were left empty, before becoming Coffee Primo Lounges.

In his 2012 show The Man With The Flaming Battenberg Tattoo, Rhod Gilbert spoke for five minutes about the Red Hen at Membury, calling it "disgusting", "filth-ridden" and "toxic", amongst other criticisms.


Red Hen used to be found at the following service areas: