In coming to the aid of his sister, Chris Maynes helped rescue Whole Hog Cafe from potential implosion.
Maynes grew up and still lives in Haddonfield, N.J. Thirty years ago, his oldest sister, Kathy, moved to Little Rock, where she and her husband, Ron Blasingame, formed Equity Resources Group, which leases office equipment.
In the late 1990s, Ron Blasingame started participating in competitive barbecues. “He did real well at that,” Maynes said. “So they wanted to open a restaurant.”
Whole Hog Cafe eventually supplanted Equity Resources Group as the couple’s major venture.
However, tragedy struck when Blasingame died of multiple organ failure in 2009. “That left Kathy the majority owner of Whole Hog,” Maynes said. “She really needed some help running it.”
Meanwhile, Maynes had spent the intervening years building his own career. He attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1994 with a degree in accounting. He then joined the U.S. Navy, spending three years on the USS Seattle. Later, he performed contract work for the U.S. Department of Defense, and then worked as the head of the USS Fitzgerald’s supply depot in San Diego.
In June 2000, he left the Navy and attended graduate school at Penn State University. After receiving his MBA in finance, he worked at Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC, then food service provider Aramark and finally in mergers and acquisitions at Comcast.
But after his brother-in-law’s death, Maynes agreed to help the family revitalize Whole Hog, which had suffered during Blasingame’s illness. “I agreed that I’ll spend as much time in Little Rock as needed,” said Maynes, who carries both the CFO and CEO titles.
His challenges began immediately. Blasingame’s passing had thrown the company’s operations out of whack, and Maynes’ role was to help put the company back together. “When Ron died, it was everything from the uncertainty of where the company was going to go to some management issues,” Maynes said.
The biggest choice Maynes had to make was regarding the company’s underperforming Hot Springs location, which he ended up closing.
Maynes said Whole Hog’s quality makes it a strong business. “I think it’s definitely the commitment to consistently putting out a high-quality product no matter what location,” he said.
His commitment to Whole Hog has led the company out of Arkansas: It has two locations in New Mexico and one each in Missouri and Louisiana, and it plans to open a location in Cherry Hill, N.J. The rest of the chain’s 13 current locations are in Arkansas.
Maynes’ family occupies him when he’s not in Little Rock. “I’ve got seven kids; that keeps me busy right there,” he said.
And his favorite sauce? “It was 3, but I’m kind of gravitating towards 4 lately. It’s always a toss-up.”