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By now you’ve probably heard that legendary McClard’s Bar-B-Q in Hot Springs is under new ownership, having left the hands of the McClard family after 92 years.
Beasley Properties of Hot Springs closed the sale last Monday, said Bobby Dennis, a company spokesman. Lee Beasley is the name behind Beasley Properties, and Beasley Properties is the company behind Bone’s Chophouse, which has locations in Hot Springs and Little Rock; J&S Italian Villa in Hot Springs, purchased recently; and the Copper Penny Pub, also in the Spa City.
“We’re going to work closely with the McClard’s in maintaining their traditions, history and flavor, if you will,” Dennis said.
Dean Jennings, managing partner and chief operating officer of Beasley Properties, will be running all the operations at McClard’s, as he does at all the restaurants.
“Basically, Lee and Dean — they just had a commitment to maintaining the locally owned, established restaurants here in Hot Springs,” Dennis said.
McClard’s, a 2018 inductee into the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, was founded by Alex and Gladys McClard in 1928 and earned an entry in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
The origin story goes like this: The McClards had a tourist court in Hot Springs with a gas station and diner that served barbecued goat, and when a guest couldn’t pay his bill, he offered in exchange the recipe for “the world’s greatest hot sauce.” The McClards liked the recipe, modified it somewhat, and before long “the barbecue business became bigger than the tourist court or the gas station,” according to restaurant lore.
McClard’s was a favorite of Bill Clinton, whose enthusiasm for its barbecue earned the restaurant greater renown.
The McClard family, the fourth generation to work at the restaurant, closed the restaurant in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it reopened last week, under the state’s phase one operating guidelines.