The Minute Man burger chain that was originally founded in Little Rock in 1948 is set to make a triumphant return to the original city in the near future. Minute Man announced today in a press release that they are planning 3 locations in central Arkansas, likely split between Little Rock and Conway.
Minute Man was founded in 1948 by Wes Hall as a 24 hour coffee shop at 407 Broadway in Little Rock, a corner now occupied by the Region’s Bank Building parking deck. They later converted to a full burger restaurant in 1956 when Hall bought out the other partners in the venture. At the time they were viewed as one of the most innovative fast food restaurants in the country, outpacing similar young chains like McDonalds and Burger King.
They were known for quickly implementing and adopting new technologies, like this thing called the microwave oven. They were one of the very first restaurants in the country to utilize this particular technological advancement in their kitchen flow, heavily promoting their Radar Deep Dish Pie that was heated using the microwave.
Thankfully their burgers are not microwaved, they have a long standing tradition of grilling their burgers over charcoal. They were innovative in the way they promoted their products throughout the years, partnering with Coca-cola for unique promotions, and creating the first ever kids meal (something rival McDonalds would later knock off) called the Magic Meal.
Minute Man reached their height in the 70’s, operating 57 locations across the country, mainly in Arkansas and Tennessee.
Several of their concepts were sold off to competitors as the company began to decline in the 80’s. The rights to the Magic Meal name were sold to Burger King and Wendy’s bought the rights to the slogan “old-fashioned hamburgers” that Minute Man created.
The company began to slowly decline as competition increased, eventually consisting of only one restaurant located in El Dorado. It is that store, owned by Linda McGoogan, that will serve as the base of the hopeful resurgence of Minute Man and a return to the roots.
“[We are] excited to get Minute Man up and running again,” McGoogan says in the release. “People ask me every day if Minute Man can open in Little Rock or wherever. I tell ’em just stay tuned-that’s our plan!”
McGoogan says her first memories of Minute Man were from the Cantrell Road location in Little Rock when she was 7. Her father took her and she had been hooked ever since.
Locations for the new Minute Man restaurants have not been named. Even though the original location is not available, it would be easy to see a location downtown. Taking over the current McDonald’s location on broadway, which is set to move later this year across the street, would be a welcome bit of irony mixed with prime real estate. Other spots like the old Starbucks in the Heights, Pizza D’s, or the previous spot housing Ozark Country Breakfast would all provide a nice bit of nostalgia to a location.
One thing is for sure, it would be great to have a strong Little Rock grown fast food spot for those quick meals. Maybe without the microwaved food though.