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A winning combination at Wendy's of Little Rock: fast-food chain draws acclaim for service and success.

ONE MORE VICTORY AND Wendy's International Inc. may want to consider changing the name of its top award from the Wendy Award to the Jerry.

Jerry Hamra, chairman and chief executive officer of Wendy's of Little Rock Inc., has won the fast-food chain's top honor three times, the only franchisee ever to accomplish that task.

Hamra was the first franchisee to win the Founder's Award and earned the distinction of being inducted into the Wendy's Hall of Fame for his company's performance and his service to the community.

Gerald F. Hamra has watched his hamburger empire grow from one store, opened in 1975 in North Little Rock, to 25 stores across Arkansas.

The most recent store opened Dec. 12 in Bentonville in Hamra's first step toward cornering the northern Arkansas market. He expects to open three stores a year over the course of the next four years in Fort Smith, Rogers, Eureka Springs and Harrison before heading south to open a Texarkana location.

"They're without a Wendy's |in portions of northwest Arkansas~, so we've got to get up there," Hamra says with total conviction. "It's not a secret to anyone that's involved up north that there's a boom up there."

The Bentonville grand opening earned Hamra the cover story of the January edition of Wendy's Magazine, a corporate publication. The Bentonville store is the corporation's 4,000th restaurant. Wendy's founder Dave Thomas and Jim Near, the company's chief executive officer, braved a winter storm to attend the opening.

"It's fitting that Jerry is opening the 4,000th store, since his franchise is one of the best in the system," Thomas told those in attendance at the opening.

Thomas served the store's first official hamburger to Helen Walton, widow of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton. The Bentonville Wendy's is located directly across the street from Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters.

Hamra said during the event that 10 cents from each soft drink sold in December would go to the Helen Walton Children's Center, adding that the promotion would become an annual December event.

Hamra's experience in retail dates back to his youth, running his family's Sam F. Hamra Department Stores and Jerry's Dollar Store in his hometown in Steele, Mo., with the aid of his wife, Carolyn.

After obtaining the rights to open his first restaurant in 1975, he opened his second a year later and three more in 1977. He has opened at least one franchise every year since, the most being the five he opened in 1978.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business of the Year Awards 1992; awards for Wendy's of Little Rock Inc. owned by Gerald F. Hamra
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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