Friends Partner to Purchase Fort Smith Restaurant

August 2nd, 2016 by Ronda Hawkins

Roland Johnson and Drew McGuire, new owners of Catfish CoveDrew McGuire and Roland Johnson, lifelong friends, purchased Fort Smith’s Catfish Cove in April. The restaurant, in business since 1971, is known for its all-you-can-eat seafood buffet and “Crab Leg Tuesdays and Saturdays.”

McGuire worked with the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at Arkansas Tech University on acquisition planning and loan packaging.

“I found the ASBTDC’s market research and analysis to be most beneficial. My business consultant, Ronda, dissected Catfish Cove’s current and historical financial statements and compared those statements against other local industry averages, to which I didn’t have access.  This was particularly advantageous, because it identified areas we could improve on from day one,” said McGuire about the assistance he received.

McGuire and Johnson decided to purchase the restaurant because it has maintained a fantastic reputation for an unprecedented 45 years, and the pair felt it was a solid investment. They decided to keep the existing staff to create a seamless transition and maintain the current level of excellence expected by their customers.

Johnson manages the day-to-day operations at the restaurant, while McGuire handles the business operations from his satellite office in Tulsa.

McGuire worked with Regions Bank to secure an SBA-backed loan for more than a half-million dollars as a portion of the deal and advises others, “Involve your lender during the early stages of negotiations, especially if it’s your first business purchase. Your lender can help you value the business and provide valuable input prior to going under contract. You can minimize your mistakes by talking to mentors and taking advantage of programs like the ASBTDC.”

Visit Catfish Cove at 1615 Phoenix Avenue in Fort Smith or online at