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Dog n Suds sign resurfaces in Rogers Gastropub as movie prop

Neon relic hung at 1st Car-Mart lot by Laurinda Joenks | May 28, 2023 at 3:01 a.m.
At the America’s Car Mart headquarters in Rogers, Senior Underwriting Manager Bert Dunmire stands in front of a neon sign from a restaurant that became Car Mart’s first headquarters in 1981. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

ROGERS -- A historic neon sign shines brightly in its new home -- a wall of honor of sorts at the headquarters of America's Car-Mart.

The sign was for the Dog n Suds Drive In, which in 1981 became the first home of the used car dealer. Today, Car-Mart has 156 car lots in 12 states, according to Vickie Judy, chief financial officer.

The drive-in was on South Eighth Street, across the street from the current Car-Mart of Rogers location.

The sign has another claim to fame: A movie company hung the sign in the Shire Gastropub in February when the restaurant in downtown Rogers was used to film scenes for a movie.

Keith Edgeworth, a risk insurance manager for Car-Mart, saw the sign during a meal at the Shire and knew of its relationship with Car-Mart.

He offered to buy it from the Shire's owner and manager, Greg Vukin. The men had met through the Rogers Downtown Rotary Club, which meets Monday evenings at the restaurant.

Vukin refused to sell it. Instead, he gave the sign to Edgeworth, who hung it in the Car-Mart conference room among awards for the company and its employees.

Vukin hopes his actions spur other businesses in Rogers to cooperate with each other.

"He's not my best buddy. We don't go fishing together," Vukin said. "But there's value in helping them tell their story.

"We should talk to our neighbors," Vukin continued. "It feels good to do -- especially in these times."

Edgeworth said the sign probably hung inside a window to the drive-in building, which would have contributed to its survival.


The restaurant serves lunch and dinner, but the peak times come after dinner when people hang out in the upstairs bar area, Vukin said.

A man filming the movie came in as a customer and "fell in love with the place," he said. The film crew used the restaurant for about five scenes shot over 30 days.

The movie, called "Shakey Grounds," was filmed entirely in Northwest Arkansas, reads a comment from Demara Titzer, spokesperson for the movie.

Vukin said he wasn't allowed to disclose details about the movie.

The set designers had the Dog n Suds sign as a prop, and Vukin bought it.

Vukin said he does not know how the film company came to be in possession of the sign.

Edgeworth said unusual items used for advertising Car-Mart pop up at flea markets from time to time.

The restaurant used its neon sign alongside a window facing North Second Street, from which the restaurant sold hot dogs from the Danger Dogs food truck.

"I had no clue what it was until Edgeworth saw it," Vukin said. "It just looked cool to us."


Dog n Suds still operates 20 locations -- including one in Paragould -- in six states, according to the company's website.

The company was started by two high school music teachers in 1953 in Champaign, Ill., the site states. Success in central Illinois led the teachers to full-time, fast-food franchising.

During its heyday from the 1950s to 1970s, Dog n Suds boasted 650 restaurants across 38 states.

The company on its website touts its "world famous" handcrafted root beer and Coney dogs.

  photo  The first location of Amercia’s Car-Mart opened in 1981 at this former Dog n Suds Drive In in Rogers. The brick building still stands at the site, but the awnings are long gone. (Courtesy Photo/Amercia’s Car-Mart)

Print Headline: Used-auto giant sees a sign, finds its roots


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