Iconic Parachute Inn in Walnut Ridge set to reopen

Iconic Parachute Inn in Walnut Ridge set to reopen

Talk Business & Politics
by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net)

ny amateur pilots have a custom on Saturday mornings. They fly their planes and land in another city and enjoy a meal, often referred to as the “$100 hamburger” because of the flight cost.

The Parachute Inn, a restaurant on Walnut Ridge Regional Airport property that includes a section from a remodeled Boeing 737, was a popular spot for years for just such pilots.


Seth Hardage, owner of Hardage Aviation, told Talk Business & Politics he had a hard time telling pilots and clients, who came into the the airport to dine at one of the most well-known eateries in Northeast Arkansas because of the quality of the food. When it closed, Hardage and his wife, Andrea, and mother, Kellee Hardage, decided to reopen the restaurant.

One aspect that appealed to Snapp was repainting the airplane portion to resemble the aircraft on which the Beatles flew into the airport on Sept. 18, 1964. Silhouettes of the Fab Four will be placed on the outside steps that lead into the plane to allow tourists to take pictures, Hardage said. There will also be Beatles memorabilia in the restaurant, he said.

Snapp told Talk Business & Politics he thinks the venture will benefit the city in a number of ways. Each year, the city hosts the Beatles at the Ridge Festival, commemorating the band’s only stop in Arkansas as a group. The city has two monuments, the Beatles Park and the Guitar Walk commemorating its music history.

“As mayor of a community experiencing growth like we’ve not seen since the early to mid-1970s, I’m excited about every new business that expands opportunities for our residents, but even more so when a business renovation has a direct impact on tourism,” Snapp said. “The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee is excited to see the airplane attached to the restaurant is being revitalized. … We have pledged several thousand dollars to help clean and paint the exterior of the airplane to look like the American Flyers Airline plane that landed and left with the Beatles in that moment of history that changed the community more than 50 years later.”

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