How one of Lincolnshire's quirkiest restaurants has grown into a roaring success

Enthusiasts travelled from as far as Brighton and Wales when destination restaurant V-ATE first roared into Lincolnshire. Now with a new bigger and better version of the original quirky car-themed diner on the horizon, there’s even more scope to become one of the county’s most popular spots. When eating out these days it’s not just about the food – although those burgers do look exceeding good – it’s about the experience.

And a trip to V-ATE is sure to be memorable. Where else can you sit in a Mini, Rolls-Royce or Ferrari to eat your dinner? The countdown until opening day, Monday September 21, is on with the final touches being added to the brand new site near Boston.

The original pop-up, which the owners estimated would stay for 10 months, turned into three years at Langrick. Having outgrown the village site, the purpose-built restaurant is located at a new service station, alongside Starbucks, McDonald’s and a Budgens shop, off the A17 Sutterton roundabout.

The quirkiest tables around at V-ATE

One of the busiest roundabouts in Lincolnshire, averaging 36,000 vehicles a day, there’s ample opportunity to attract passing trade as well as regulars. “One of the developers said they wanted something different.

If you said the roundabout with McDonald’s and Starbucks it could be any roundabout in the county but if you said the V-ATE roundabout…” said Victoria Burden, co-owner of the family business. So what’s the secret behind their success? “It’s one of those things that appeals to everyone.

A lot of grandparents bring their grandchildren. It joins generations,” said Victoria, who used to sing in the band Brit Chix, and is the restaurant’s general manager. “You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to like it.

Kids love it. One favourite will be a Renault Galion truck where they can sit inside to have their dinner.” It’s Victoria’s father and car enthusiast Bob Wilding, who is responsible for crafting the cool-looking tables, aided by her husband Neil, a welder and fabricator of farm vehicles by trade.

V-ATE burger

Completing the family business is mum Lesley, who is in charge of admin, helps to train staff and has a creative input.

Every table is different at the roadside pit stop – from the Mini Cooper fronted booths to the large Chevrolet truck table with space for 12. Real car parts are used – either brand new or salvaged from scrapped or burnt out vehicles, such as the vintage Chevy – a rust bucket with a seized up engine. “My dad designed the Chevy with the face – he is a bit of a genius,” added Victoria.

How one of Lincolnshire's quirkiest restaurants has grown into a roaring successThe opening date isn’t far away

The story started at the family’s Witham and Blues restaurant in Langrick, which had a large but rarely used function room.

The idea for a car-themed restaurant came about after the two couples went on holiday separately – the Burdens to the US and the Wildings on a driving trip in Europe. “We’d been to lots of themed places and smokehouses and my mum and dad had visited the Ferrari factory and car museums. When we got back and caught up over dinner we just came up with this,” said Victoria.

It took a year to transform the function room, christening it V-ATE – a play on V8, the car engine which defines American motoring.

How one of Lincolnshire's quirkiest restaurants has grown into a roaring successHow the Chevy used to look before it was transformed

Neil said: “We all brought different things to it. We all liked cars and American type food and put our skills together to do something different. “The pop-up blew up and as soon as we put the pictures on Facebook it went viral.”

It used to be open Thursday to Sunday but the new venture will be welcoming visitors through the doors seven days a week, with longer opening hours, from 6.30am to 10pm. “People were travelling from Wales and Brighton to sit at certain cars, so the pressure is on,” said added Neil. He originally designed the American-style menu but head chef Ant Grainger has taken it to the next level.

How one of Lincolnshire's quirkiest restaurants has grown into a roaring successNeil and Victoria Burden and Bob and Lesley Wilding pictured at V-ATE

Breakfast will be introduced alongside the main menu of burgers, hot dogs, Southern fried chicken sandwiches and fries.

Victoria said: “Lockdown was a massive challenge. It’s been a hard slog. The main emphasis was how fast can we get people back to work and get the business back up and running again.”

With a long-term plan to franchise V-ATE, the car theme restaurants could be rolling into other towns and cities in the future.

V-ATE will open on September 21 at 11.30am.

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