FORTE this week opened its first Little Chef roadside restaurant in Spain as partof a joint venture agreement with Spanish petrol group Repsol.
The Almuradiel Little Chef, which cost nearly £500,000 to build, is located halfway between Madrid and Seville. Depending on performance, it could be the first of at least 50 Little Chefs in Spain.
A second is due to open near Zaragoza later this summer, and a third is scheduled to open next February. Both these outlets will have 40-bedroom Forte Travelodges built alongside.
Forte first signed an agreement with the former state-owned petrol group as far back as 1990, but has waited to see the effects of privatisation before taking things forward.
Although the Little Chef name and 60% of its menu has been retained, items suchas bocadillo omelettes, chicken with salsa and gazpacho, havebeen added to cater for local tastes.
Although Repsol has petrol stations outside Spain, there are no plans at present to extend the agreement.
A spokeswoman for Forte said: "We have no specific plans elsewhere in Europe, although we do see Little Chef as a brand which is capableof being expanded internationally."
There are currently just under 350 Little Chefs in Britain serving 40 million customers a year, and two outlets in the Republic of Ireland, in Dublin and Cork.