A locally owned restaurant chain is nearing a deal to expand to western Benton County.
Jeff Hodges, who owns and operates Springdale-based restaurant/sports bar chain Foghorn’s, is planning to open a new location at 1400 Highway 412 in Siloam Springs, formerly a McDonald’s restaurant location.
Hodges says he has signed a contract to buy the 1.87-acre development and 3,762-square-foot building from McDonald’s for $300,000. The deal, brokered by Orion Capital Partners in Little Rock, is expected to close in June.
After the acquisition is finalized, Hodges plans a total remodel of the building, which has been sitting vacant for more than five years.
“We might be able to keep some of the plumbing, but it’ll be a total facelift,” Hodges said. “It needs a new roof, new electrical work, new flooring. It’ll be pretty intensive on the remodel. It won’t be recognizable from what it looks like today.”
First National Bank of Paragould will finance the renovation. A contractor hasn’t been determined.
“If we can get it open by the end of the year, that will be great,” Hodges said
Foghorn’s, founded in 2004, has two locations in Fayetteville, one in Springdale and one in Rogers. Last year, Hodges said the chain collected revenue between $4 and $5 million.
“We are growing at about a 10% clip year-over-year,” he said.
Hodges said the western Benton County market is untapped for the Foghorn’s niche.
“It’s a growing market and there’s a great need for a great sports bar,” he said. “The social media response [for a potential Siloam Springs location] has been incredible, and the community has been very welcoming. I’ve met with the chamber of commerce and the city to let them know what I want to do and so far it’s been open arms. I think they are glad to see a new business coming into a building that’s frankly been an eyesore for so long.”
Foghorn’s in Siloam Springs will have a large outdoor patio, Hodges said, with room for 100 patrons. Seating capacity inside will also be for 100.
Hodges, 43, graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1997 with a double major in financial management and accounting. He then headed to Little Rock and a job working for national accounting firm Arthur Andersen. He worked there for almost four years, before moving back to Northwest Arkansas.
A few years later he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, and after working toward his goal for two years, he opened the original Foghorn’s on North College Avenue on March 19, 2004. Sales from the first year totaled between $275,000 and $300,000. It was a lean operation, with fewer than eight employees.
As sales grew, Hodges starting thinking about expansion. He opened a second location on March 10, 2008, in a new commercial strip center on 15th Street across from Baum Stadium in south Fayetteville, called University Village.
That location underwent a 1,750-SF expansion in 2013 to add seating for an additional 75 customers. Later that year, Hodges moved the flagship store from North College to a larger building at 1815 Green Acres Road, a 3,000-square-foot building he bought for $322,000 that previously housed Mermaid’s.
One year later, Hodges paid $715,000 for a 4,436-square-foot building at 1100 S. 48th Place, off Interstate 49 in Springdale, which previously housed Bleu Monkey Grill (opened in spring 2012) and Oseguera’s.
After remodeling the property, it opened as Foghorn’s third location on Feb. 27, 2015.
Hodges took his “wings-and-beer” concept to Benton County last year, opening in a renovated 4,500-square-foot building at 2221 W. Walnut St. that he bought for $390,000. It was formerly a Mazzio’s restaurant.
Hodges said the secret to his success isn’t complicated — put out a good product. Foghorn’s meats, he explained, are fresh, and the restaurant’s 50 varieties of sauces are handmade.
Besides paying attention to quality food, Hodges is also very much a community minded business owner.
“A lot of guys overlook that part of it, but we’re involved with multiple charities and enjoy giving back to our community,” he said.