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Yellow Rocket Concepts Eyes Northwest Arkansas, Barbecue

2 min read

Scott McGehee, executive chef and partner at Yellow Rocket Concepts of Little Rock, says there are no new restaurants in the works right now, but he’s looking to northwest Arkansas and barbecue as he considers growth.

McGehee spoke at the Rotary Club of Little Rock’s weekly meeting on Tuesday and said the while the company has “no plans” for a new restaurant, he would “like to expand in northwest Arkansas.” He also said “world-class barbecue is something I’d like to do.”

“We don’t have any leases signed,” McGehee said. “But we have our eyes on northwest Arkansas.”

Yellow Rocket Concepts has a range of eateries in its portfolio: Local Lime, Heights Taco & Tamale Co., Big Orange, Lost Forty Brewing and Zaza Fine Salad & Wood-Oven Pizza Co. McGehee also founded Boulevard Bread, which he sold eight years ago. 

The company recently purchased property for a new headquarters.

McGehee said he is also interested in the “healthy eating” market and believes it will be a growing sector of the restaurant industry.

In his presentation, McGehee spoke about the start of his career and his family’s history in the restaurant business.

His father started Juanita’s restaurant, which recently closed, and his great-grandmother opened the Red Apple Inn in Heber Springs.

Now, Yellow Rocket Concepts employs 470 people, the majority of whom McGehee said are millennials.

“What’s most critical for my organization is that we treat every person we hire with fairness and respect,” McGehee said. “There’s never or reason to yell or scream in the kitchen … Food Network is not the real world.”

He said that he tries to instill in his young employees to be positive, honest and sober.

“If I can take a young person and teach them to be consistently positive, that’s the best thing I can teach them,” McGehee said. “I tell employees, ‘I want you to come and be challenged and be promoted in the company — or leave and do something extraordinary with your life.'”

He said the turnover rate at his restaurants is much lower than the average restaurant and he believes this is in part due to the competitive wages.

“If minimum wage went up to $12 right now we’d have to raise maybe 3 percent of our employees’ wages,” McGehee said. 

In all his restaurants, McGehee said he wants customers to enjoy high-end, gourmet food, and for “anyone to be able to come in and have a great experience.”

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