Wagon Ho!

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Wagon Ho! was a fast-food drive-thru restaurant at 1624 Montclair Road at Eastwood Mall, the first location in a national chain founded in 1968 by Birmingham entrepreneur Temple Barnard. The Eastwood franchise was owned and operated by Johnny Jones.

The roof of the restaurant, designed by Don Williams, was inflated into the shape of a huge Conestoga wagon with an International Fiberglass-made statue of a 15-foot-tall teamster sitting on the front. The restaurant, which had a drive-thru and covered picnic tables, featured hamburgers, and ham and roast beef sandwiches. One of the chain's innovations was a fast oven which cooked hamburgers in under 60 seconds, making it possible to serve drive-thru customers with meals cooked to order.

Barnard sold the concept to an investment group headed by Florida shopping center developer Mel Sembler. They established the company headquarters in St Petersburg, Florida in 1969 and announced plans to expand with 50 franchised Florida locations in the first year, and another 200 across the country in the following year.

The partnership split up, however, and franchisees opened only about nine or ten locations scattered around the country. Several were built in the Vancouver, British Columbia area before the chain folded in 1970. The Birmingham store remained in operation until a year or two later, when Jones sold the franchise back.

In the early 1970s the defunct restaurant was purchased by the Kelly's Hamburgers chain, and later became Dilly's Deli. The restaurant's distinctive roof was damaged in a 1976 storm. The wagon-shaped sign survived the demolition of the restaurant itself and was removed with the development of Eastwood Village in 2006. The pioneer man statue was displayed near the entrance to Cherry Construction in Moody until 2018 when it was purchased by Bruce Kennedy, owner of Bell Plastics of Hayward, California, who collects roadside statues for restoration and display.


  • Baker, Joel (December 10, 2013) "Pioneer Man" American Giants - Muffler Men

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