Our new motel and diner is now open in Oxfordshire, offering affordable style on the go. We park up for a chat with the director
“Mollie’s is the brainchild of Nick Jones,” says Simon Bradford, director of Mollie’s. “A few years ago he saw an empty roadside site near his home and had an idea for an American-inspired motel and diner.”
A big, red neon sign announces that the idea has now become a reality on an arterial road in Buckland, Oxfordshire. Road users can choose to drive thru, dine in or sleep over at Mollie’s, with an American-style menu and stylish, affordable rooms.
“The approach was to build a 1950s motel and diner but knowing what we know now. At every stage we’ve asked ourselves three questions: is it simple, is it stylish, is it robust?” says Simon. The team have taken successful ideas from the Electric Diner, Dirty Burger and Chicken Shop, producing a hearty menu of dishes like hamburgers, waffles with bacon and maple syrup, and free-range rotisserie chicken. Good-quality milkshakes and a whipped ice cream called Mollie’s Jollies are expected to be popular.
Meanwhile the bedrooms are simple but comfortable, with Soho House-designed beds, armchairs and desks. There are hardwood floors, Egyptian cotton sheets and dimmable light switches, along with rainforest showers and Cowshed products in the bathrooms. But with prices starting from £50 a night luxuries like robes, safes and minibars have been stripped out.
Instead of an in-room kettle, guests can get free tea and filter coffee from the glass-fronted general store, where “the idea is you can come down and pick up anything you forgot, whether it’s a toothbrush, a phone charger or nappies for the baby,” says Simon.
Led by GM Emma McSharry and AGM Natalie Bolton, the 40-strong team have mainly been recruited locally, with kitchen managers Krystian Birski and Marcin Wenarski moving across from Chicken Shops in London.
To keep prices low, bookings are only being taken through the Mollie’s app or website. “It’s all very slick and tech-based,” says Simon. “You can’t ring up, you can’t walk in and you can’t go to booking.com. We pass those savings on to the customer.”
Within 18 months Mollie’s will be rolled out to two more sites, one at Cribbs Causeway, near Bristol, and the other in the old Granada TV Centre in Manchester. That means Simon is still moving at 80mph, but he’s confident all three sites will do well. “We’ve applied what we’ve learnt from staying in hotels around the world. It’s all about keeping it simple, consistent and good value.”