Name: Big Boy
Type of Food: French Toast, Omelettes, Pancakes, Burgers, Fries, Milkshakes
Interesting Fact: The company is the franchiser for more than 455 Big Boy restaurants in the United States and Canada. Also, the “Big Boy” concept, menu, and mascot were originally franchised to a wide number of regional franchise holders, listed below (with approximate original territory in parentheses). Of these, only Frisch’s still maintains franchise rights to the “Big Boy” name, and many of the other former franchise owners (Shoney’s, for example) have expanded into areas that were once the territory of another franchise holder. The current Big Boy Restaurants International has been expanding its Bob’s Big Boy name into territories formerly held by franchisees.
Unlike most modern franchises, the various restaurants differed somewhat from one another in terms of pricing and menu offerings.
* Abdow’s (Massachusetts, Connecticut)
* Azar’s (Northern Indiana, Colorado)
* Big Boy of Florida (Exclusive rights to the Central Florida territory was acquired by Irv Lichtenwald from 2006 through 2011 with the right to extend this franchise for 6 additional years)
* Bob’s (California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Northeastern Ohio, New York, New Jersey, as well as Indiana and Pennsylvania turnpike and airport locations operated in several states by the Marriott Corp.)
* Eat’n Park (metro Pittsburgh) dropped Big Boy in 1976.
* Elby’s (West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio) owned the Big Boy rights to northern West Virginia, originally through Shoney’s and quickly expanded Big Boy into bordering Ohio counties, subfranchised through Frisch’s, and later expanded through Pennsylvania. A trademark battle with Frisch’s over Ohio operations caused Elby’s to drop Big Boy affiliation, to be followed by Shoney’s et al.
* Elias Brothers (Michigan, Northeastern Ohio, Ontario, Canada)
* Frisch’s (Ohio, Kentucky, S. Indiana, Florida until the early 1990s) the Cincinnati restaurant chain and first franchisee, began serving Big Boy hamburgers in 1946; Frisch’s now operates 88 Big Boys & franchises 32 Big Boys to others. They also franchise Golden Corrals in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.
* JB’s (Utah, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Washington, New Mexico, Kansas, Rhode Island)
* JB’s (Canada) (Ontario and Alberta in the 1970s)
* Kebo’s (Seattle & Tacoma, Washington area, no longer exists)
* Ken’s (Maryland – suburban Washington DC, became Bob’s late 1960s)
* Kip’s (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas)
* Lendy’s (Western Virginia)
* Mady’s (Windsor, Ontario, Canada)
* Manners (Northeastern Ohio)
* Marc’s (Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois) were owned by the Marcus Corporation. Some were sold, others were converted to Marc’s Café and later Annie’s American Café. Most now operate as Perkins.
* McDowell’s (North Dakota)
* Shoney’s (Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Maryland), founded by and named after Alex Schoenbaum, no longer displays the Big Boy Statue, because it dropped its relationship with Big Boy in 1984 in order to expand to other states where others owned the trademark. It was the second Big Boy franchisee and subfranchised to Elby’s and Lendy’s.
* TJ’s (New York)
* Tops (Illinois)
* Vip’s (New Mexico)
* Yoda’s (Western Virginia)
Also, Big Boy Japan owns and operates 216 locations (as of September 2007) throughout Japan under four restaurant names: Big Boy (199 stores), Milky Way (50), Victoria Station (43), and Grill Dan (4).
History: Big Boy is a restaurant chain started in 1936 by Bob Wian in Glendale, California. Bob sold his car for $350.00 and opened a small restaurant called Bob’s Pantry. Members of an orchestra playing in the vicinity stopped in the restaurant and asked Bob Wian if he could dream up something different than just a plain hamburger. “Why not,” Wian mused. As if his hands were guided by an unseen force, he cut a regulation hamburger bun into three slices, and inserted not one but two hamburger patties into place. It was then garnished with a special and very delectable relish he had prepared. Wian handed the innovation to the players and anxiously awaited the decision. “Wow,” they chorused. “This is it!” and it was. Other customers saw him preparing it and asked for one. They agreed with the musicians. Wian had made a better hamburger. But what to call it? Inspiration came in the form of Richard Woodruff, of Glendale, California. When he was six years old, he walked into the diner Bob’s Pantry as Bob Wian was attempting to name his new hamburger. One day the chubby youngster walked into Wian’s now flourishing restaurant. “He was about six,” Bob recalled, “and rolls of fat protruded where his shirt and pants were designed to meet. I was so amused by the youngster — jolly, healthy looking and obviously a lover of good things to eat, I called him Big Boy.” So why not name the new hamburger Big Boy? Wian did. That was the birth of the first double-decker hamburger. Warner Bros. animation artist Ben Washam sketched Richards’ caricature, which became the character seen on the company logo. Big Boy is a registered trademark of Big Boy Restaurants International LLC .
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