PICTURES: Can you remember long-lost roadside restaurant chain Happy Eater and when former Prime Minister ate at its Doncaster branch?

At one time, its familiar yellow and orange sign was a welcome sight for tired and hungry motorists the length and breadth of Britain - with former Prime Minister John Major among them.

Tuesday, 16th May 2017, 10:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th May 2017, 1:38 pm

Happy Eater, the nationwide chain of roadside restaurants, dominated the country's trunk roads in the 80s and 90s - and among its dozens of eateries was an outlet on the A1 near Doncaster - and one where former Prime Minister John Major famously tucked into breakfast.

The chain, which aimed its menu of English breakfasts, fish and chips and burgers squarely at families, began life in 1973 as a rival to Little Chef, the only national chain of roadside eateries at the time.

The restaurant chain closed in 1997.

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But whereas Little Chef could only offer free lollies and colourful maps of their restaurant locations to hungry youngsters, Happy Eater went one better with outside play areas, offered centred around a huge fibreglass tree, complete with swings and climbing frame. Children could also pick up Happy Eater badges.

Doncaster's Happy Eater was on the A1 at Carcroft - and while the service station is still there, the restaurant itself is long gone, the chain being phased out by 1997 when Granada took over parent company Trusthouse Forte and converted the remaining restaurants to Little Chef branches.

But the firm's place in history was sealed in February 1991 when then Prime Minister John Major dropped in at the Doncaster branch for a bite to eat.

His black Daimler rolled into the car park - and staff were amazed as the politician tucked into an all-day breakfast before addressing a conference in Scarborough.

Button badges were popular among children.

He wasn't the only famous guest to pay a visit to the Carcroft eatery.

In 2014, the Duke of Edinburgh popped in on his way to a private engagement.

Prince Philip and his entourage didn't order food - just a round of hot drinks.

John Major once dined at Doncaster's Happy Eater.
The restaurant chain closed in 1997.
Button badges were popular among children.
John Major once dined at Doncaster's Happy Eater.