Fayetteville restaurateur Rolf Wilkin bringing new concept to market

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 10,057 views 

This rendering depicts PopUp Drink Thru at 2001 S.W. Regional Airport Blvd. in Bentonville. Fayetteville entrepreneur Rolf Wilkin, owner of the Eureka Pizza restaurant chain, is the owner.

After 30 years in the pizza business, Fayetteville entrepreneur Rolf Wilkin is creating a new product category that he’ll unveil soon in Bentonville.

PopUp Drink Thru, a beverage-based restaurant, will open in March at 2001 S.W. Regional Airport Blvd. Wilkin said the date is still to-be-determined while sorting through a supply chain issue.

The menu includes energy drinks, sodas (Coke and Pepsi products), coffee, teas, shakes, chai drinks and sparkling water while adding flavors, sauces, fruit purees and creams to create original drinks.

“We feel like there’s nothing else like this,” said Wilkin, who opened his first Eureka Pizza restaurant in 1992 in Fayetteville. There are now eight locations in the regional chain. “When you hear the word ’drink thru,’ I think people get the idea.”

Verdant Studio of Rogers designed the building, which includes 701 square feet of kitchen and prep areas to service a “pop-in” pick-up window and double-lane drive-thru.

“Rolf had some very clear ideas about the customer experience he wanted to generate,” said Dayton Castleman, Verdant’s director of creative placemaking. “As a part of our process, we worked to understand this vision and his business goals, then combined that with artistic and architectural insight to produce visible and tangible elements to make the PopUp experience as refreshing as the drinks served.”

Matt Davidson with Neal Hefner Construction was the general contractor.

Wilkin estimates he’s invested $2 million in the concept, which he’s been developing for over two years.

“This is my COVID baby,” he quipped. “Our goal is to replicate this concept. Something that could go national — if not international.”

PopUp Drink Thru will operate seven days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

“And maybe even [eventually] 24 hours,” Wilkin said.

Wilkin said one food item would complement the all-beverage (and alcohol-free) menu.

“[Fayetteville retailer] Ozark Natural Breads is developing a high-end cookie for us,” he said. “We’ll have our cookies and millions of drink combos.”

Wilkin is leasing the land for the restaurant from developer Mike Charlton.