Legendary Arkansas Restaurant Franchise Plans A Comeback


Minute Man Hamburgers est. 1948

… our clients call us “The Last Minute Man”!

minute man Restaurant in El Dorado, Arkansas, owned and operated solely by Ms. Linda McGoogan, has partnered with Matchbox Food Group founder and native of Arkansas, Perry J. Smith, to revive this legendary brand.

minute man was a pioneer of the fast-casual restaurant founded in Little Rock by entrepreneur Wesley (Wes) Hall in 1948. The original Minute Man location opened at 407 Broadway on May 26, 1948. At the height of its operations , the company had 57 owners and franchise locations in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana.

Ms. McGoogan has owned and operated Minute Man, El Dorado since 1984. “We’ve been around for so long that our customers call us the ‘Last Minute Man Standing’,” she laughs. This claim is true as its location is the only remaining unit of this once vast chain. McGoogan is assisted in the restaurant by her husband Paul and son Brent, making it a true family business. She adds, “We are always doing very well and customers are lining up when we get ready to open every day,” after hearing about Minute Man from regulars, friends and family or reviews on the internet.

May 26 marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of Minute Man and over the years Ms. McGoogan has had her fair share of supporters. During her career, she nurtured a number of dignitaries such as Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, the late Senators David Pryor and Dale Bumpers as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton. With no plans to retire yet, McGoogan is delighted to “get Minute Man back on track”. She adds: “People ask me every day if Minute Man can open in Little Rock or elsewhere. I tell them to stay tuned, it’s our plan!”

Perry J. Smith is an Arkansas native and career restaurateur and says he’s been a huge Minute Man fan since he was a child. “My first dining experience was in a Minute Man on Cantrell Road in Little Rock. I think I was about 7 years old. McDonald’s had opened across the street and all the kids were pestering their parents into mistaking them for. burgers. My dad said, ‘No, but I’m going to take you to a restaurant in Arkansas for a real burger and charcoal-grilled fries. I was addicted.’

Smith is the founder of the multi-unit catering company Matchbox Food Group with locations in California, Maryland, Florida, Virginia, DC and Texas. After selling his stakes in restaurants, Smith founded The Avalon Institute, a business development and leadership company. Additionally, on his frequent trips to Arkansas, he began researching the history of Minute Man and heading to El Dorado to eat out. Smith reports, “The food, burgers and fries were fantastic, just like I remember growing up.” Over the years, the relationship between Smith and McGoogan has grown, with Smith providing informal advice on management, operations, quality control and branding. In June 2018, they formalized their partnership through a new Minute Man entity, AR Management, with the sole purpose of bringing this legendary restaurant back to the state of Arkansas.

Said Smith, “Minute Man is an Arkansas heritage brand and beloved restaurant, and people are so excited about the opportunity to come back. Right from the start and to gauge people’s interest, we launched a Facebook page called Memories of a minute man and now has over 700 subscribers. People jump on it everyday and chat about what they ate, what they remember and their best dining experiences. Overall, the main thing I hear is that Minute Man is the ‘right brand for our time’, which makes me feel good about the possibilities of a comeback. “

Initial plans call for the opening of three locations in the Little Rock and Conway areas. Said Smith “Since we partnered, I have worked in the restaurant with Ms. Linda, meeting customers, setting up systems, developing relationships with the trades and building a motivated team.” He adds, “But mostly I have listened to people’s thoughts on what a 21st Century Minute Man should look like, feel and taste like. So many people love this idea and we have to get it right.” He concludes: “But with 70 years of history by our side, a good dose of nostalgia and of course a great charcoal grilled burger, I have no doubts it will be a huge success!”

We’re sure Mr. Hall will be watching closely.

Minute Man, AR Management is the operational arm of Minute Man restaurants. The Avalon Institute is a business development, leadership and coaching company founded on the principle of roundtable leadership where individuals learn to collaborate effectively in order to grow, overcome complex challenges and succeed in their endeavors. Please direct all inquiries to Avalon staff through the main website. Photos courtesy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, UALR, and the Avalon Institute.

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