Big Boy restaurant chain

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doulasc
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2013/01/05 17:34:51 (permalink)

Big Boy restaurant chain

This is about the Big Boy chain(not Frisch's). I have noticed that Big Boy is mostly in Michigan and has a few in Ohio,one in Illinois.Then there is Bob's Big Boy in California. Big Boy had restaurants in Florida but they have all closed. Is the chain in any kind of financial trouble? Have they filed bankruptcy in the last ten years.It seems they are going the way Shoneys is going.Whats going on?
post edited by doulasc - 2013/01/05 17:35:54
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    Twinwillow
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/05 18:38:04 (permalink)
    Bob's Big Boy use to be prevalent in Texas but alas, no more.
    #2
    mar52
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/05 19:02:55 (permalink)
    Still going strong in Burbank, California.
    #3
    CajunKing
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/05 21:36:32 (permalink)
    Just looked at the financials, they are selling a heck of a lot of Big Boys.
     
    Frisch's and Big Boy International now own the majority of all operations or control the francisees.
     
    Frisch's local place here just built a new 50's style building, and are packed every day of the week.
    #4
    Davydd
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/06 12:54:14 (permalink)
    What's going on? I dunno. I do know I never trusted the secret sauce on their burgers after I heard rumors about one in Cincinnati. I bought my own first cup of coffee in a Frisch's Big Boy in Indianapolis in 1959. The last time I stopped at one in Xenia, OH they served a pork fritter passed off as a pork tenderloin sandwich.
    #5
    Hot Dog Empire
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/06 13:04:05 (permalink)
    There used to be one in Enfield Ct right at the state line about 10-12 years ago. Place was always busy and had good food and service. One day they just closed up and 3 months later there was a brand new McDonald's setting in the same spot. That McDonald's doesn't to this day, get 1/2 the business Big Boy did. I never understood it, unless the owners just got burnt out and took the first offer that came along.....
    #6
    ces1948
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/06 14:37:09 (permalink)
    There are none in this part of Florida that I've seen. There were still a couple of the Shoney's version in Tennessee when we left. The one in Kingsport, Tn was very busy.
    #7
    Russ Jackson
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/06 15:22:35 (permalink)
    It was my first job back in 1976...Russ
    #8
    ann peeples
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/06 17:22:17 (permalink)
    We loved Big Boy when it was in Milwaukee..When we visted Indiana last year we passed up an opportunity to stop and have our favorite "Big Boy" burger. Bob was just in Ohio, and, again, passed it up.Guess we dont miss it that much..
    #9
    Louis
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/07 21:00:13 (permalink)
    Every now and then--always in the summer--I'll drive 120 miles or so just to eat at the closest Big Boy around me in Corydon, Indiana--just a few miles away from Mayor Al's residence.  I first discovered the chain in the summer of 1976 in the suburbs of Pontiac, Michigan when I had to live there for five months.  Three times a day it was my home away from home.  And the food tastes just as good now as it did then, especially the Swiss Miss and the Brawny Lad.
     
    post edited by Louis - 2013/01/07 21:02:23
    #10
    Scorereader
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/10 09:29:54 (permalink)
    Aside from the paper routes I owned, and the summer job I held, working in the kitchen at a YMCA camp in the Finger Lakes, TJ's Big Boy in N. Syracuse, NY was my first regular, non-seasonal, job. Started as a "DRB" (Dish, Run, Bus), became a supervisor of DRBs (at the tender age of 17) and worked on the salad bar, which was a demotion from the DRB supervisor role, but was WAY better to get out of the dishroom and into the kitchen. I was a stickler about throwing away old food. Even then, I knew to not store food too long, and throw away all uneaten food from the salad bar/buffet at the end of the day. A disagreement I had with the manager, who wanted to save stuff.
     
    The management was a mess at this location. At that time (late 80s) The corporate offices in MI were buying back franchises. TJ's sold back (but they kept the "TJ" part because it was familiar in CNY, where, at one point, there were four or five of these.) The managers were looking up at possible corporate jobs (advancement) so the head manager, in particular, was trying to show his ability to create a profitable restaurant (as he thought this was the best way to advance) and wanted us to cut corners. I said, "If your tactics cause a salmonella outbreak, you'll get yourself out of this restaurant for another reason." At that time, a few local restaurants had already been shut down due to an outbreak, and the papers were making a huge deal of it. Front page kind of stuff. It was the newest "scare" for papers to exploit.
     
    I won, briefly, up to the point whete I finally quit, at the start of the summer of 1990, went I went back to the kitchen at the YMCA camp, where we really tried to create good food, with our budget. And, the chef they hired, really cared about putting out good food. Many of the camp counselors, many of whom were campers there in their youth, would comment about the kitchen,"you think of camp, and you think 'ugh! camp food,' but I actually have to be careful not to gain weight because the food is so good here!" I took that philosphy of good technique and raising up the dish to the next level with easy techniques to college when I worked in the dining halls. Luckily, this college used good products (for the most part) and the permanent staff appreciated my attitude of making something simple, like,"baked chicken" a wanted item by students. Although, admittedly, I liked working in the pizzaria over the big kitchens, because making pizza, breadsticks and pasta, is EASY work.
     
    So, Big Boy taught me a few things, 1) how to manage a large salad bar/buffet i.e. keeping it clean, keeping it fresh, and not listening to a stupid cost cutting manager and keeping it safe! (this had made me a good party host), 2) How to recognize crappy management, (who are the leaders and who are the kiss asses) and 3) by default, I learned that businesses fail in quality when the goal is purely profit driven, but succeed, and last longer, when quality trumps profit. Because, Big Boy is no longer in Central, NY.
     
    #11
    hatteras04
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/10 10:22:21 (permalink)
    We occasionally eat at Frisch's and the thing I have noticed is how expensive it is for what is bascially a fast food joint.  The burger prices aren't too bad but then to add on the salad bar is like an extra $5.50.  That just seems like way too much.  And it's not like there is that much on the salad bar -  bagged lettuce, standard veggies, horrible pasta and potato salads.  The soup is ok but not good enough to justify charging that much.  Even without the salad bar it is about $20 for my wife and I to eat dinner there.  I just think that to spend that, I can get something better than fast food.  So maybe that is why they are hurting.
    #12
    mayor al
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/10 17:59:02 (permalink)
    I have visited three major BIG Boy Chains..  Bob's out West Mainly in California...JB's in the Rocky Mtn States, and Frisch's in the Midwest. They are all (those 10 or 15 i have stopped at) basically the same floor plan and menu. They remind me a lot of the original Howard Johnsons layout.....or Shoneys.  I thought there was a "Holding Company doing the finances with Franchise companies overseeing large geographic areas with a lot of individual stores in each area.
    They were a "fill-up the kids Breakfast stop" on many of our cross country trips.
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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/10 18:08:53 (permalink)
    I was at a Bob's in California back in the '50s, Shoneys in West Virginia in the '60s, Elias Brothers in Michigan in the '80s and Frisch's here in Ohio a couple of years ago. Of them all I liked Shoney's best and the Shoneyburger best of all.
     
    Caveat: I used to do the play-by-play of the Charleston Rockets of the Continental Football League, and they were owned by Alex Schoenbaum, the founder of Shoneys (and a former All-American at Ohio State).
    post edited by Michael Hoffman - 2013/01/10 18:10:49
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    mayor al
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/10 18:20:34 (permalink)
    Tell us about those Leather Helmet days Michael !! Imagine getting to see Jim Thorpe actually playing a game !!!
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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/10 18:33:57 (permalink)
    I never did get to see Thorpe play. Our television set couldn't pick up broiadcasts of his games. But you should know that he never wore a helmet. The fact is, when my father played football very few people were wearing helmets, and that was in the '20s. The 1920s.
    #16
    Big_g
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/10 18:35:50 (permalink)
    Back in the 60's and 70's we a "Totes BigBoy" in St. Louis....used to be quite the hang out / cruise spot.  Burgers were pretty good too.
    #17
    ann peeples
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/10 20:01:20 (permalink)
    I agree, Big. In the 70's( at least here in Milwaukee) they were pretty darned good.
    #18
    Twinwillow
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/10 20:46:33 (permalink)
    Very big in Dallas, too during the 70's.
    #19
    Scorereader
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/01/11 22:02:20 (permalink)
    That was it! Thanks for (unknowingly) jogging my memory, Michael Hoffman. IT was Elias who was buying back franchises, and TJ's in Syracuse sold back to them. They never changed the name, the plan was to convert them, but they all folded...again, piss poor management when Elias came in, due to a systemic problem that the larger organization couldn't overcome.
     
    I thought their salad bar was good, and did some things well. Big Boy burger, was like the way a Big Mac was meant to copy, but never...or rather, did not achieve that. Real meat, cooked to order, with the lettuce, pickles, special sauce, etc.The line cooks at the N. Syracuse location took pride in their work, and put out a good product from the grill. Unfortunately, when Elias took over, the quality dropped. At a restaurant like that, where the food is not prepackaged, but cooked to order from ingredients, the local ownership really helps to keep a high quality product, when it went to a larger corporation, the ingredients had to be those of the larger Elias company, therefore, the choice dropped, the managers, rather than a chef or owner chose the products, and that just doesn't lead to good things.
     
    I went to a Shoney's in the 90s in NC, and it was good, but I thought the Western Sizzler was better. Except, at Shoney's you can order from the menu, which is a plus. Then, a few years ago, went to Shoneys near Martinsburg, WV and was less than impressed. Now, my friend from Columbus, OH really wanted to go there, and I went along with it. We all did the buffet. Frankly, I wasn't impressed in that go around...and I think he felt the same, as the last time he had been at a Shoney's was when he was younger.
     
     
     
    #20
    EliseT
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/24 03:19:08 (permalink)
    Don't forget Pappy Parker's fried chicken! The oldest surviving Bob's in Burbank CA is still going strong and has a classic car show on weeekends. It was designed by architect Wayne McCallister and foreshadows the coming googie style. People often wonder about the mysterious neon number 49 that glows on the front wall. It is simply the year the restaurant opened: 1949. The current owners, who bought the restaurant in 1993, have reinstated carhop service on Friday and Saturday nights. But the real star here is the Super Big Boy Combo, a study in nostalgia. They start you off with a shockingly crisp iceberg lettuce salad topped with one of their their thick, creamy house dressings. The salad is followed by the classic cheeseburger-fries-coke combination. Some people claim that Bob’s invented the very first double-decker burger for this combo. It vaguely resembles a Big Mac, with a strange chow-chow-like relish, super-soft bun and superthin patties. But somehow it is greater than the sum of its parts.
     
    There is also one in Glendale, CA but I was under the impression it is under new ownership, though they still sell the Bob's coin banks.
     

     

     

    #21
    ann peeples
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/24 07:55:25 (permalink)
    Thanks for the pics, Elise. The owners of the former Big Boy's in Milwaukee still own movie theaters, and now serve the Big Boy sandwich-I had one recently, and it was just as I remembered it.
    #22
    rmcielwain
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/24 09:48:33 (permalink)
    2 visits to Big Boy restaurants:
    First one, at a Bob's in Los Angeles back in '73: was 10 years old at the time & ready to see if I could make the step up from regular McDonald's cheeseburgers;
    ordered the signature Big Boy combo & unfortunately, the burger won as I couldn't finish off the last few bites.  :(
    Second was 10 years later at an Elias Brothers in downtown Windsor, Ontario.  Got my revenge by polishing off the burger easily (still have the takeout menu).
     
    Dothan had Shoney's with the iconic statue in the front, but he didn't make the trip across the highway when they moved & broke away from Big Boy.
    #23
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/24 10:38:28 (permalink)
    I always thought that "Big Boy" was a licensing business, allowing use of the likeness, the double-deck Big Boy Burger, and, of course, that gelatinous strawbetty pie.
     
    As I recall Eat 'n Park (Western PA), Elby's (WVA and Eastern OH), Shoney's (through the South), and Bob's (East & West coasts) were all independent businesses that held a licence, as opposed to being "franchises".
     
    That "form" of business pre-dated franchising.  I also recall it being used for Kentucky Fried Chicken (before "KFC") and the Ollieburger
    post edited by MetroplexJim - 2013/07/24 10:41:19
    #24
    wheregreggeats.com
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/24 11:55:45 (permalink)
    ... and there was Abdow's in central Massachusetts.
    #25
    Route 11
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/24 12:30:56 (permalink)
    The Abdow's in Westfield, MA did a HOT business. A victim of bad management and cost-cutting. Same for Bickford's, which took its place.
    Some of our Shoneys in the Shenandoah Valley closed overnight recently. The one in Waynesboro is still open.
     
    #26
    EdSails
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/24 16:14:29 (permalink)
    About 4 years ago, Bob's bought a location in Downey, CA that was an existing but closed and eventually (to the anger of the city and residents) almost razed completely, authentic Googie era diner. Called Harvey's and then Johnie's Broiler, it had been an institution in Downey, the real thing. 
    Bob's Big Boy in Downey history  
     
    The city partnered with them and eventually they rebuilt it using the original plans. They won a President's Award from the L.A. Conservancy as well as being put on the California Register of Historic Places.
     
    I was there on opening day and there was over an hour wait. I went back several times as things got less crowded. I took my daughter there many times as I remembered going to the one in Sunland, CA when I was 12 years old. It was a regular place my parents would take my brother and I, only five minutes from the house. My favorite was always the chili with spaghetti and the chili and burger spaghetti. My daughter loved the Big Boys. Maybe it's not great food, but to me Bob's was always comfort food. The Big Boy was one of those burgers that was better than the sum of their parts and the shakes were always good. I seem to remember going to Downey when the had a classic car day there, similar what they've had in Burbank for years, with Jay Leno a regular attendee.
    Downey Car Night video

    As Elise mentioned, they were also famous for their Pappy Parker's Fried Chicken which I remember was my parent's favorite. It's great to see a place from my childhood that's still there and that I can still enjoy so many years later.
    post edited by EdSails - 2013/07/24 19:46:57
    #27
    ces1948
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/24 19:48:20 (permalink)
    Back in the late 80's my wife and I were very involved in youth bowling (yaba) Her son was a very good bowler and was invited to the state tourney in Tampa, Fl. The host motel for that tournament was Shoney's Inn and of course there was a Shoney's restaurant on the premises. Great memories!
    #28
    cjucoder
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/24 21:44:03 (permalink)
    ann peeples

    Thanks for the pics, Elise. The owners of the former Big Boy's in Milwaukee still own movie theaters, and now serve the Big Boy sandwich-I had one recently, and it was just as I remembered it.

    Yeah, here in Milwaukee it was "Marc's Big Boy".  What theater serves it, Ann?  Obviously it's Marcus, but I haven't seen it in any theater.  I used to love those as a kid and would enjoy the nostalgia of trying it again.
     
    As an aside, I actually learned to spell my last name as a youngster hearing my dad call in takeout orders to Big Boy and spell our name out-loud. 
    #29
    ann peeples
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    Re:Big Boy restaurant chain 2013/07/25 07:37:22 (permalink)
    cj- the theater is the Majestic in Waukesha. They serve you right in the theater while you watch a movie. Very comfortable seats!
    #30
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