Tommy Hilburn


Little Rock Back Yard Burgers Inc.

Little Rock

Tommy Hilburn

As Back Yard Burger restaurants spring up all over central Arkansas, Tommy Hilburn sees his management style changing.

"With two or three stores, you can do it hands-on, keep a grasp on things," the 34-year-old Walnut Ridge native says. "The hardest thing I am learning is when you're going from three to eight stores, you have to be a delegator.

"I feel I am working harder than ever and don't know if I'm doing as good a job as when I had three stores."

Hilburn's company just keeps growing. In just four years, eight Back Yard Burgers have been built. By the end of the year, that number should be 10.

Hilburn, his father and a brother-in-law, Lanier Robison, were introduced to the chain in 1990 and thought Little Rock would be a good market. Hilburn had management experience with Waffle House out of college before becoming an accountant. He was with Quality Foods as its controller.

Last year, Hilburn and partner Jamie Smith (another brother-in-law) sold the Little Rock franchise back to Back Yard when the company went public. Back Yard made this area a subsidiary and signed Hilburn to a three-year contract as president.

Back Yard participates in charity and school events, often feeding thousands at cost.