Photo Courtesy of the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - What makes a city so special? There are the obvious things: the buildings, the organizations, the people (of course), the festivals, the night life, and all the obvious things. But, there are also the things you don't see.
This brings us to The Craig O'Neill Tour.
It's an excursion into the heart of Little Rock, to show Millennials - those born after 1980 - just how special this place called Little Rock is. But, really, this is an exercise for all ages. With that in mind, lets go on a field trip ... to Broadway.
Photo Gallery: Craig O'Neill visits the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture to dig through Little Rock history
At 4th and Broadway there is a parking deck. Thousands of cars pass by and that's what they see. But, as a baby boomer, I see so much more. It was at 410 South Broadway we saw the birthplace of one of the great Arkansas success stories: Minute Man. In its hey day, back in the 60s and 70s, there were 57 locations in four states. They gave fast food such things as "kids meals," which were later discovered by Burger King; the "Big M," the forerunner of the Big Mac; even the slogan "Old fashioned hamburgers," which Wendy's would later purchase.
Monica Mylonas is an assistant archivist at UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture. Working out of the Arkansas Studies Institute, a partnership between UALR and the Central Arkansas Library System, she is in charge of the Minute Man Collection, donated by Wes Hall, its founder.
She is only 25-years-old, and yet has been amazed at the popularity of the chain, which now has one location still in operation in El Dorado. She told us the most often-mentioned item on the menu is the radar deep dish pie. Minute Man was one of the first restaurants in the U.S. to use a microwave oven.
Photo Gallery: Little Rock, then & now
Just a mere mention of Minute Man on our THV Facebook page, elicited hundreds of responses. Twenty years after its demise, it still connects people, and that's why it is a perfect example of how history gives a city color. But, Minute Man is not alone. Also getting mentions in a Facebook poll were Casa Bonita, Hank's Dog House, Bruno's on Roosevelt, the Band Box, Shakey's Pizza, Taco Kid, and even first Lady Ginger Beebe joined the discussion with a mention of The Leather Bottle.
Another tour is planned for next Wednesday, and this one will focus on another unseen area, involving shopping. There's no better way to confront the future than with a tour of the past; a tour of the unseen.
Your restaurant and shopping memories are welcome.
If you have any historical photos from Little Rock or anywhere in Arkansas you'd like to donate to the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, you can mail them in to 407 President Clinton Avenue, Suite 202 in Little Rock, Ark. 72201.