Where Our Story Began
In 1936, Bob Wian sold his prized DeSoto Roadster to purchase a hamburger stand in Glendale, California. He named it Bob’s Pantry.
Bob's Big Boy Comes to Life
Another regular customer, a movie studio animator, sketched the now famous character on a napkin. The Big Boy® burger craze that ensued prompted Bob to change the stand’s name to Bob's Big Boy® and to introduce the now-iconic Big Boy® mascot.
The First Superfan, Richard Woodruff
Customers couldn't get enough of Bob's new creation. One fan in particular was a chubby six year old boy in droopy overalls. He would often help Bob sweep up in exchange for a free burger. In honor of his young friend, Wian decided to name the better burger the Big Boy.
The First Double Decker Burger is Born!
One night in 1937, a regular customer requested something different for a change. Bob went to work, sliced a bun into three slices, added two hamburger patties and, voilà, and the first double deck cheeseburger was born!
Designed by renowned architect Wayne McAllister, the restaurant incorporates the 1940's transitional design of streamline modern style and the free-form 50's coffee shop architecture. The towering Bob's sign is the most prominent feature.
A Landmark Is Born
The oldest remaining Bob's Big Boy in America was built in Burbank, CA in 1949 by local residents Scott MacDonald and Ward Albert.
The restaurant was honored with the designation as a "Point of Historical Interest" by the state of California.
By 1964, the Elias Brothers had opened 100 restaurants bearing the Elias Brothers Big Boy® name throughout Michigan and Ohio. The Elias Brothers purchased the Big Boy® chain in 1987 and moved the headquarters to Warren, MI where they operated until 2000.
Our First Franchise
Brothers John, Louis, and Fred Elias were the first to formally apply to Bob Wian for a Big Boy® franchise license. Their restaurant called the Dixie Drive-In in Hazel Park, MI became the first official Big Boy® franchise.
Adventures of the big Boy First Prints
The first edition of the Big Boy comic series was published, written by Stan Lee and produced by Timely Comics (later known as Marvel!) until 1961. Manny Stallman, followed by Bob Bindig, continued the series until 1996, making it one of the longest-running comics in American history.
Beatlemania Comes to Big Boy
The Beatles dined at Bob's Big Boy® in Burbank, CA the summer of 1965. A plaque commemorates the event marks a corner booth by the window facing Riverside Drive. Many regulars and tourists from around the world request "the Beatles booth" every day.
Bob Sells Big Boy
Bob Wian sold the Big Boy® chain to Marriott Corporation in 1967 for $7 million, that would be roughly $55 million today. After selling Big Boy, Bob Wian served as both vice president and president of Marriott's "Big Boy Restaurants of America" division, and later a board member, before retiring. Marriott later sold the franchise to the Elias brothers in 1987.
Cruising into the 21st
Robert Liggett, Jr. purchased the Big Boy® chain in 2000. He served as Chairman from 2000 to 2018. In 2018, he sold the company to a group of Michigan investors, who renamed the company Big Boy Restaurant Group. They are the current operators and franchisors - meet them below!
Here at Big Boy, we're dedicated to thinking BIG! Because we want you to think Big Boy® (for breakfast, lunch, or dinner)!
Big Boy Continues
Now celebrating its 86th anniversary, Big Boy is proud of its history of serving delicious food, making memories, and giving back to your communities! Home to the original Big Boy burger, the Slim Jim, and the Classic Blockbuster Breakfast, Big Boy is meeting the future with new menu items, more ways to get your favorites, and staying dedicated you, the source of Big Boy's success.
The History of Big Boy
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Director of Purchasing
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