A Tradition Of Quality – In Business For Over 80 Years!
The Classic story of Big Boy Restaurants begins amid the humble surroundings of California during the Great Depression.
Bob Wian, the eventual founder of Big Boy, found work washing dishes in a Los Angeles tavern. He painstakingly saved his pennies from that job and combined them with three years of savings, with proceeds from the sale of his car, and with $50 borrowed from his father to mark the starting point of Big Boy history.
With this widely assembled group of funds, Wian bought a 10-seat diner in Glendale, Calif., which he named Bob’s Pantry. Here, he pioneered a double-decker hamburger that he called the “Big Boy,” which became known as an American favorite.
With the success of this double-decker hamburger, Wian decided to change the name of his entire diner to “Bob’s Big Boy.” The now-famous Big Boy character was created when a man at Wian’s counter took his pen and, on a napkin, began to sketch a drawing of another customer – a chubby, young boy in overalls with curl in his hair. Today the Big Boy Character is one of the world’s most recognized and beloved corporate icons.
In 1948, three brothers in the restaurant business Detroit made their first contact with Big Boy. While attending the annual National Restaurant Association meeting in Chicago, John, Louis and Fred Elias met Bob Wian.
Wian invited Fred, Louis and John to visit his California operation, and in 1952, the brothers became the first franchisees of Big Boy Restaurants, and by 1964, they had opened 100 restaurants bearing the Elias Brothers Big Boy name.
In 1972, Bob Wian, the founder of Big Boy, sold his franchiser position to the Marriott Corporation. Marriott held those rights until 1987.
The year 1987 was a landmark one for the Elias brothers as they acquired the Big Boy franchiser rights from the Marriott Corporation. With the agreement, Elias Brothers Corp. became the exclusive worldwide franchisor for the International Big Boy System. Over the next several years, Big Boy Restaurants expanded its franchisee operations in Japan.
At the end of the year 2000, Robert G. Liggett Jr., purchased Big Boy Restaurants International LLC. Liggett and Tony Michaels are making aggressive plans for the improvement and expansion of the new company and its 455 worldwide restaurants.
This vision for the future was revealed on January 14, 2003 with the unveiling of the new prototype Big Boy Restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The new prototype showcase the rich heritage of Big Boy that has made it an American icon for over 65 years.
Drawing upon our history of innovation, we have created a new fast-casual concept that takes us all the way back to our roots. On February 9th, 2016, we opened our first Big Boy’s Burgers and Shakes in Mayfield Ohio. Designed around today’s consumer preferences, using our original recipes and our iconic branding, to reach the modern family in a fast-casual restaurant setting that appeals to Millennials, families with children, and of course the modern connoisseur of fantastic fresh burgers, fresh cut fries, and our iconic shakes.
Our new design has a smaller footprint, reduced build out costs, and reduced operating costs. With our newest concept, we have created an exciting new way to bring our beloved brand to the next generation of consumers. With a limited menu and a laser focus on customer service, the Big Boy’s Burgers and Shakes has all the hallmarks of our history, reimagined for today’s burger fanatics, and we are delighted to expand across the US with pioneer franchisees that will share our vision.
At Big Boy® we are very excited for what the future holds. Join our growing family and help write the next chapter in history!