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Big Boy (page 1)

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The history of Bob's Big Boy and Big Boy restaurants can be traced back to 1936 when Bob Wian bought a local Glendale restaurant and named it Bob's Pantry. Wian supposedly originated the double-decker hamburger and came up with the Big Boy character. Bob's Big Boy became a California chain and began franchising in the 1940s. Unlike other chains like McDonald's, Wian did not require uniformity. Franchise owners were free to name their restaurants whatever they wanted. The restaurants were known as Frisch's Big Boy and Manners Big Boy in Ohio. Frisch's and Manners Big Boy restaurants used the same skinnier, running boy as their mascot. In the late 1970s, Manners locations became Bob's Big Boy restaurants.

The restaurants were known as Elias Brothers Big Boy restaurants in Michigan, Northeastern Ohio, and Ontario. The Elias brothers had their own restaurants before becoming a Big Boy franchisee in 1952. The company kept the Elias name and added the Big Boy character and "Home of the Big Boy" to their signs and advertising. In 1987, they acquired the Big Boy chain's franchise rights from Marriott Corp. Big Boy is now Michigan-based and has about 450 restaurants in California, Arizona, Hawaii, North Dakota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, and 3.

former Bob's Big Boy
Los Angeles, CA
This former Bob's Big Boy now houses Panang Restaurant. It was originally known as the Hinky Dick restaurant. It became a Bob's Big Boy in 1937. It closed in the mid-1970s. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2.
Bob's Big Boy
Burbank, CA
This Bob's Big Boy was designed by Wayne McAllister and built in 1949. It is the oldest restaurant left in the chain. The building was saved in the early 1990s and restored to its original design. It is now the top revenue-producing Big Boy in the country. The Big Boy statues were produced by International Fiberglass in the 1960s. In the early 1980s, Big Boy had FAST of Sparta, WI produce about 100 new statues. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Boomers Bike Shop
Clarkston, MI
Hi-Boy Sandwich Shop
Lyndonville, VT
former Big Boy
Northridge, CA
Boomers Bike Shop, a motorcycle store, has turned this Big Boy into Biker Boy. The statue is about nine feet tall.

The Hi-Boy Sandwich Shop has a Big Boy statue on the roof, altered to hold a plate with a sandwich. There are three Hi-Boy Drive-ins in Independence, MO using Big Boy images. I don't know if this place is related or just coincidence. For more, see this website.

The arm of a former Big Boy statue has been put to use as a mailbox at this residence.

Nick's Barbecue
Burbank, IL
Enzo's End Pizzeria
Denver, CO
Reiff's Gas Station Museum
Woodland, CA
Nick's Barbecue features a Big Boy-like statue. I don't know whether it was inspired by the Big Boy statue or if it is actually one that has been heavily adapted. Nick's Barbecue has another location in Palos Heights, IL but it doesn't appear to have a statue like this one.

This Big Boy statue at Enzo's End Pizzeria came from Hammond, IN. There, he stood in front of a candy store where he was known as Candy Andy. In 2010, the statue was installed on the roof of Enzo's after being adapted to hold a pizza platter. The statue is now nicknamed Big Enzo. For more, see this website.

The Big Boy statue at Reiff's Gas Station Museum looks like it has a broader face to me. The statue seems to have less of a smile than the other ones. I don't know if Big Boy made different models or if this could be a knockoff.

Dari Joy
Bellows Falls, VT
Dari Joy has been serving ice cream here since 1952. They have had the Big Boy (nicknamed "Big Joy Boy"), altered to wave, on the roof since the 1960s. I believe he gets put in storage for winter. For more, see this website. [photo at right thanks DinerFan]

Bob's Big Boy [gone]
Hesperia, CA
Bob's Big Boy
Alhambra, CA
Bob's Big Boy
St. Louis, MO
Bob's Big Boy
Escondido, CA
Bob's Big Boy
Norco, CA
This Bob's Big Boy (#188) opened in 1982. It closed by 2011 and this statue was removed. [photo thanks Glenda Campbell]

The Bob's Big Boy statue in Alhambra is located inside Noodle World. The building had housed a Big Boy restaurant until 1996. Noodle World's owner bought the statue at a flea market. He pays Big Boy $1 per year for the right to display the statue. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2.

This Big Boy statue in St. Louis is located inside the City Museum. [photo thanks Glenda Campbell]

This Big Boy statue in Escondido is located at the Deer Park Winery & Auto Museum.

The Big Boy restaurant in Norco has two Big Boy statues. One of them was custom built in 2009 as a cowboy. Norco is known as "Horsetown USA." For more, see this website.

Kennedy's Cakes and Donuts [gone]
Cambridge, OH
Kennedy's Cakes and Donuts had a repainted Bob's Big Boy statue next to their building. His hamburger leaned against the side of the building when I took these photos in 2006. This classic Big Boy statue is 10 feet tall and holds a 40 inch hamburger. In 2014, the statue was sold and removed. Its new location is unknown.

Big Boy [gone]
Livonia, MI
Big Boy
Brighton, MI
Big Boy
Coldwater, MI
Big Boy
Fenton, MI
Big Boy
Alma, MI
Big Boy
Detroit, MI
Big Boy
Mason, MI
Big Boy
Novi, MI
Big Boy
Ann Arbor, MI
Big Boy
Pittsfield Township, MI
Big Boy
Chesterfield, MI
Big Boy
Milan, MI
Big Boy
Waterford, MI
There are still lots of old Big Boy restaurants in Michigan and they are still being built.

The Livonia location featured a revolving Big Boy statue on top of its sign. I don't know of any other Big Boy's that have a sign like this or if this one was unique. The Big Boy statue in front of the restaurant held both of his suspenders instead of a burger. I believe this is an older, rarer 1950s Big Boy statue. There was also another sign on the side street entrance that I missed. These photos are from 2011. By 2014, this location had closed and the statues and signs were gone. For more, see this website.

The Brighton location's statue also still revolves. There are still a few signs of this design in Michigan.

The Coldwater statue is installed on top of the restaurant's sign. For more, see this website.

I believe this Alma sign is the only one of its kind left.

The Detroit Big Boy statue still revolves on top of the sign. This is the only Big Boy location in Detroit.

The Novi Big Boy statue is believed to have come from a Saginaw location which closed.

The Ann Arbor Big Boy features a "Suspenders Bob" like the one in Livonia shown above.

The Pittsfield Township and Mason locations feature Big Boy statues in front of their restaurants. The Pittsfield Township location was built in 2005.

The Chesterfield Big Boy statue spins above the sign.

The Milan Big Boy statue has been here since at least the 1980s.

The Waterford Big Boy statue is another oldie perched on top of a sign. [bottom row of photos & Mason Bob in the snow photo, thanks Mark Comstock]

More Big Boy statues
Willimantic, CT
Chatsworth, CA
Gaylord, MI
Sault Ste. Marie, MI [gone]
St. Ignace, MI
Kaatsheuvel, Holland

Big Boy
Farmington, MI
This Big Boy is still housed in one of the very rare, old-style buildings. There is a statue of Bob in front of the building. The old sign has been replaced with a modern, plastic one.

former Big Boy
Wayne, MI
This former Big Boy restaurant was vacant in 2005 when the top two rows of photos were taken. The interior has been gutted and the building was still vacant in 2011 when the bottom photo was taken. I believe Beehive Family Dining was the last occupant.

Big Boy
page 2
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