Big Boy Restaurants

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Big Boy Restaurants
Big Boy Restaurants International, LLC
Limited liability company
Industry Casual dining restaurant
Predecessor Elias Brothers
Restaurants, Inc.;
The Marriott Corporation;
Robert C. Wian Enterprises;
Bob's Pantry
Founded Glendale, California, United States, (August 6, 1936 (1936-08-06))[1]
Founder Bob Wian
Headquarters Warren, Michigan, U.S.
Number of locations
96 (USA);
279 (Japan)[2]
Area served
Michigan (86), California (6), Ohio (2), Illinois (1), North Dakota (1) and Japan (281).
Key people
Robert Liggett, Jr.,
(Chairman and President)
Keith E. Sirois, (CEO)
Bruce Ferguson, (CFO)
Jim Jenson, (Director)
Tony Michaels,
(CEO, 1999–2008)

Big Boy Restaurants International, LLC is a restaurant chain with its headquarters in Warren, Michigan, in Metro Detroit.[3] Big Boy Restaurants also refers to Frisch's Big Boy Restaurants headquartered in Cincinnati.[4]

Big Boy was started as Bob's Pantry in 1936 by Bob Wian in Glendale, California, USA.[5] The restaurant became known as "Bob's, Home of the Big Boy Hamburger" then as Bob's Big Boy. It became a local chain under that name and nationally under the Big Boy name, franchised by Robert C. Wian Enterprises. Marriott Corporation bought Big Boy in 1967. One of the larger franchise operators, Elias Brothers, purchased the chain from Marriott in 1987, moved the headquarters of the company to Warren, Michigan, and operated it until bankruptcy was declared in 2000. Following the bankruptcy, the chain was sold to investor Robert Liggett, Jr., who took over as Chairman, renamed the company Big Boy Restaurants International and maintained the headquarters in Warren. The company is the operator or franchisor for 96 Big Boy restaurants in the United States.[6] Big Boy Restaurants International also licenses 279 Big Boy restaurants operating in Japan.[2][7]

Immediately after Liggett's purchase, Big Boy Restaurants International—then known as Liggett Restaurant Enterprises—negotiated an agreement with the other large franchise operator, Frisch's Restaurants. The Big Boy trademarks in Kentucky, Indiana, and most of Ohio and Tennessee transferred to Frisch's ownership; all other Frisch's territories transferred to Liggett.[8][9] Thus Frisch's is no longer a franchisee, but Big Boy Restaurants International and Frisch's are now co-registrants of the Big Boy name and trademark. Frisch's operates or franchises 121 Big Boy restaurants in the United States.[4][10][11]


A Big Boy statue common to many restaurants in the chain.

The Big Boy mascot[edit]

The chain is best known for its trademark chubby boy in red-and-white checkered overalls holding a Big Boy sandwich (double-decker cheeseburger). The inspiration for Big Boy's name, as well as the model for its mascot, was Richard Woodruff (1932–1986) of Glendale, California.[12] When he was six years old, Woodruff walked into the diner Bob's Pantry as Bob Wian was attempting to name his new hamburger. Wian said, "Hello, Big Boy" to Woodruff, and the name stuck. Warner Bros. animation artist Ben Washam sketched Richard's caricature, which became the character seen on the company trademark. The Big Boy character was revised in 1955 by an artist working for Ken Bird, a Big Boy paper products supplier and Manfred Bernhard, son of legendary graphic designer Lucian Bernhard.[13] This 1955 Big Boy figure was used for large painted fiberglass statues outside the restaurants, and was featured in The Adventures of [the] Big Boy comic book, a promotional giveaway for children visiting the restaurants. Bernhard produced the comic book for 40 years until 1997, and the comic book has since been produced by Craig Yoe's Yoe! Studio. Another longtime promotion was the Big Boy Club, a kids club offering coupons and premiums to children, who joined by sending in an application from the comic book.

In 1951, Bob Wian's original franchisee Dave Frisch developed a slightly different Big Boy character. He was slimmer, wore a side cap and was portrayed in a skipping posture, with "Big Boy" written on the sleeve rather than the chest of his shirt. (The side cap allowed space for the franchise name.) Originally he wore striped overalls and had reddish or blond hair, but now usually has checkered overalls and dark brown hair. Known as the "East Coast Big Boy", he was registered to Frisch's and used for statues and comic books for Frisch's, and its subfranchisees Manners and Azar's. Before 1956, some franchisees, such as Shoney's, would use both versions, though never together. Since 1956, the Wian "West Coast Big Boy" design was used exclusively by all franchisees other than Frisch's, Manners and Azar's. In the late 1960s both characters were redrawn to appear similar, incorporating the checkered outfit and darker hair from the West Coast design and the running pose and direction of the East Coast design. In the 1980s, the West Coast design lost the hamburger. Representing a de-emphasis of the hamburger in North American Big Boy restaurants, it also accommodated the Japanese Big Boy restaurants, which do not serve hamburgers on a bun.

Big Boy statues[edit]

Early versions of the fiberglass West Coast Big Boy statues were gigantic, measuring up to 14 feet tall with later versions as short as 4 feet. The early statues always included the Big Boy hamburger above mascot's raised right arm; much later versions eliminated the hamburger with both arms clutching the suspenders instead. The hamburger remained a part of the Frisch's East Coast statues, though the slingshot was eliminated from the figure's back pocket. Although still used by that chain, some Frisch's restaurants currently display the West Coast statue instead.

In recent years, Big Boy statues have come into conflict with local zoning ordinances. In 2002 Tony Matar, a Big Boy franchisee in Canton, Michigan was cited in violation of local sign ordinances; The town claimed the statue was a prohibited second sign; Matar asserted that the 7 foot statue was a sculpture, not a sign. A 2004 compromise allows the existing statue to remain with the words "Big Boy" removed from the figure's bib. When a Brighton, Michigan franchise closed in early 2015 for financial reasons, zoning codes caused the entire sign—topped with a rotating Big Boy statue—be taken down before the restaurant could be reopened. In contrast the planning commission in Norco, California (known as Horsetown USA) was concerned that the statue was not western enough. In response, the restaurant's Big Boy statue is now outfitted wearing a cowboy hat and boots.

A few other modified statues are in official use. To conform with Gaylord, Michigan's Alpine theme, the local restaurant's statue wears a green Tyrolean hat. In Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park a Frisch's statue is painted wearing a 1970s Reds' uniform with a Reds' ball cap added. Frisch's Big Boy hamburgers are sold at two of the park's concession booths.

Because of the closing or separation of former Big Boy restaurants, many West Coast statues were acquired by private individuals, often traded through eBay. Smaller versions of the statues are sold as coin banks and bobblehead figures. The three dimensional Big Boy figure was also used on early ash trays, salt and pepper shakers, wooden counter displays and as small unpainted pewter models.

Gigantic air inflatable Big Boy figures are available and typically used for restaurant openings and special promotions, where permitted.

The Big Boy hamburger[edit]

The signature Big Boy hamburger which is the original double decker hamburger started as a joke. In February 1937, members of the Glendale High School Orchestra, who were regular customers, visited Bob’s Pantry, one asking, “How about something different, something special?” Bob Wian improvised, creating the first (then unnamed) Big Boy, intending the thing “look ridiculous, like a leaning tower”. Demand for the unique burger took off and Wian sought a "snappy" name, which became Big Boy.[14] Some reports say Richard Woodruff was nicknamed "Fat Boy" and the Big Boy was first called the Fat Boy hamburger until discovering Fat Boy was a protected trademark.[15]

The Big Boy consists of two thin beef patties placed on a three layer bun with lettuce, a single slice of cheese, and either mayonnaise with red relish (as Wian made it), Big Boy special sauce (thousand island dressing) or (in some locations) tartar sauce on each slice of bun. (Regardless, the Big Boy condiment used was often simply referred to as "special sauce" on menus chainwide.) Wian used a sesame seed bun while Frisch's used a plain bun and included pickles. The Big Boy hamburger originally called for a quarter pound (4 ozs.) of fresh ground beef, but later, franchisees were permitted to use frozen beef patties, and the minimum content reduced to a fifth of a pound (3.2 ozs.) of beef, perhaps in response to McDonald's Big Mac.

Core menu items[edit]

Just as Bob Wian's Big Boy hamburger was served by all franchises, the early franchises also contributed signature menu items. Frisch's provided the "Brawny Lad" and "Swiss Miss" hamburgers, Shoney's contributed the "Slim Jim" sandwich and Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake, while Strawberry Pie was introduced by Eat'n Park. Hot Fudge Cake and Strawberry Pie remain popular dessert items chainwide but other items were not necessarily offered by all franchises, and franchises would sometimes change the item's name: The "Slim Jim" became the "Buddie Boy" at Frisch's, and Elby's renamed the "Swiss Miss" as the "Brawny Swiss". Similarly, when franchisees left Big Boy, they would typically rebrand the Big Boy hamburger: it became the "Superburger" (Eat'n Park), the "Buddy Boy" (Lendy's), the "Big Ben" (Franklins), the "Classic Double Decker" (Shoney's) and "Elby's Double Deck hamburger" (Elby's).

Big Boy offers breakfast, burgers and sandwiches, salads, dinner combinations, and various desserts.

Regional franchises[edit]

In addition to the Bob's Big Boy name, the "Big Boy" concept, menu, and mascot were originally licensed to a wide number of regional franchise holders (listed in the next section: Roster of named franchisees). Because many of the early franchisees were already in the restaurant business when joining Big Boy, "Big Boy" was added to the franchisee name just as the Big Boy hamburger was added to the franchisee's menu. In this sense it is confusing when referring to a chain, as each named franchisee was itself a chain and Big Boy could be considered a chain of chains. People tend to know Big Boy not simply as Big Boy but as the franchise from where they lived such as Bob's Big Boy in California, Shoney's Big Boy in the south or Frisch's Big Boy in much of Ohio, among the many others.

Each regional franchisee typically operated a central commissary which prepared or processed foods and sauces to be shipped fresh to their restaurants. Other items were prepared at the restaurants daily, such as soups and breading of seafood and onion rings.

Through the 1950s and 1960s the emphasis changed from drive-in restaurant to coffee shop and family restaurant. New franchisees without existing restaurants signed on. A larger standard menu was developed. Most adopted a common graphic design of menus and promotional items, offered by Big Boy but personalized to the franchise. Stock plans of restaurant designs were provided by Los Angeles architects Armet and Davis.

In the 1960s, Big Boy and other drive-in restaurants could not compete with the spreading fast food restaurants such as McDonald's and Burger King. Big Boy built its last drive-in in 1964 and by 1976 only 5 of the chain's 930 restaurants offered curb service.[1][16] Big Boy redefined itself as full service in contrast to fast food. However, in the late 1960s and 1970s Bob's, Shoney's and JB's also opened Big Boy Jr. stores, designed as fast food operations which offered a limited menu. Sometimes called drive-ins, these junior stores did not use carhops.[17]

Big Boy's origins as a drive in restaurant, required a much smaller investment to open and much lower costs to operate: a small building having no dining room or limited counter space. Thus persons of modest assets could become Big Boy operators. It was the profits from these operations which allowed not only additional drive ins, but operators to build the modern restaurants with large pleasant dining rooms. Many of the early successful franchisees would probably not have assets (converted to present value) sufficient to join Big Boy today.

By 1979 there were more than a thousand Big Boy restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, and about 20 franchisees. Shoney's, Elias Brothers and Frisch's—charter franchisees—controlled the vast majority.[18] These mega franchisees paid practically no fees, e.g., Frisch paid $1 per year for its core four state territory. After Bob's, the four original franchisees (in order) were Frisch's, Eat'n Park, Shoney's (originally Parkette) and Elias Brothers, all clustered near the state of Ohio. All, including Bob's, remain in operation today, albeit Elias Brothers is simply known as Big Boy, and Eat'n Park and Shoney's dropped Big Boy affiliation in the 1970s and 1980s.

Big Boy developed named franchisees in several ways. Very quickly the Big Boy name and even the Big Boy character were being widely used without permission. Bob Wian, needing diverse exposure for national (U.S.) trademark protection, offered very generous franchise agreements to Frisch's, Eat'n Park and Parkette (Shoney's). In 1952, Wian instituted a formal franchise process and Elias Brothers became the first such "official" franchisee. Bob Wian also settled trademark infringements allowing the rogue operator to become a licensed franchisee, such as McDowell's Big Boy in North Dakota.[19] Subfranchisees often used their own name and operated independently: Frisch's licensed Manners and Azar's; Shoney's licensed Elby's, Becker's, Shap's, Lendy's and Yoda's. Elby’s licensed Franklin’s Big Boy in eastern Pennsylvania. Acquisitions and mergers also occurred. In the early 1970s Frisch's acquired Kip's Big Boy; JB's acquired Vip's, Kebo's, Leo's and Bud's which were rebranded JB's. After buying Big Boy, Elias Brothers bought Elby's and TJ's. Elby's was unique in leaving and rejoining the Big Boy system. When Marriott purchased Big Boy (Wian Enterprises) in 1967, this included Bob's Big Boy. The name “Bob’s” would be used by all Marriott owned Big Boys and became common in parts of the eastern U.S. and elsewhere, far away from Bob’s historic territory.

Frisch's now owns the "Big Boy" name in a defined four state region, and Azar's and Bob's are licensed by Frisch's Big Boy and Big Boy Restaurants International, respectively. Many of the other former franchise owners (Shoney's, particularly) have expanded into the former territories of other franchise holders. Prohibiting franchisees from publicly using their own names is intended to strengthen the trademark but also prevent defections, such as happened with Shoney's Big Boy retaining identity as Shoney's.[20][21] The same occurred with Eat'n Park, Elby's, Lendy's, JB's, and Abdow's who kept their names after leaving Big Boy. Big Boy now permits operators to identify by location such as Tawas Bay Big Boy in East Tawas, Michigan.

Unlike most modern franchises, the historic Big Boy franchisees differed somewhat from one another in pricing and menus. When Elias Brothers purchased Big Boy in 1987, intentions were to standardize the name and menu, but Bob's, Frisch's and McDowell's (now known as Bismarck Big Boy) continue to offer distinctions from the standard Big Boy menu.[22]

Roster of named franchisees[edit]

Named Big Boy franchisees are listed below with territories, time span, founders and additional notes, as known:

  • Abdow's (Western Massachusetts, Connecticut, 1959–1994, founded by George and Ron Abdow and sister Phyllis LaVallee)[23] Abdow's opened as a Hi-Boy franchisee in 1959 and changed the corporate name to Abdow's Big Boy in 1965.[24] Other reports say Abdow's was a Big Boy franchise beginning 1959. Abdow's left Big Boy in 1994 over menu conflicts with Elias Brothers.[25] Now defunct, many converted to Elixi Corp's Bickfords Family Restaurants or remain vacant.
  • Azar's (Northern Indiana, Colorado, 1954+,[26] founded by Alex and David Azar) One Azar's Big Boy remains in operation in Ft. Wayne, IN. George Azar, CEO is Alex Azar's son.[27] Alex Azar became an original member of the Big Boy Board of Directors.
  • Becker's (Buffalo and Rochester, NY area before TJ's, 1956–?, founded by Abe Becker) Shoney's opened a restaurant in Rochester in the mid 1950s which may have become Becker's Big Boy.[28] Trying to expand too quickly created a financial crisis and the end of the franchise.[29]
  • Bob's
    Logos of Historic Big Boy franchisees. Franchisees were once required to use their own name with the Big Boy name and character. Some changed logos periodically and these show designs used while a Big Boy affiliate. Most logos date from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s. Logos for Bud's and Chez Chap were not available to the artist. Eat'n Park, Shoney's and JB's are no longer affiliated with Big Boy.
    (California, Arizona, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Indiana and Pennsylvania turnpike and airport locations operated in several states by the Marriott Corp., 1936+, founded by Robert C. "Bob" Wian) The original Big Boy chain, which in Wian's time was confined to Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. Because Marriott developed and acquired Big Boy restaurants elsewhere, principally the northeastern U.S., "Bob's" developed a more diverse territory and identity. Presently, "Bob's" is again used only in Southern California, and no others under the domain of Big Boy Restaurants International are permitted to use franchise names for public identity. Wian became the original chairman of the Big Boy Board of Directors.
  • Bud's (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, 1966–197?) Operated two units. Acquired by JBs in the 1970s.[30]
  • Chez Chap (Greater Montreal, Quebec, 1978–?, founded by Chapman Baehler) Baehler was Bob Wian's stepson.[31]
  • Eat'n Park (metro Pittsburgh, 1949–1975, founded by Larry Hatch and William Peters) Hatch and Peters were supervisors at Isaly's in Pittsburgh.[32] On Isaly's business in Cincinnati, Hatch saw the success of the Frisch's Big Boy Drive-In prompting contact with founder Bob Wian, who needed national exposure to gain national trademark protection.[33] Eat'n Park soon became the second Big Boy franchisee. When the 25 year franchise agreement expired Eat'n Park dropped Big Boy, attributed to the loss of drive-in popularity but primarily motivated by the end of the $1 per year license fee the franchise had enjoyed.[34]
  • Elby's (Northern West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, 1956–1984, 1988–2000, founded by George, Ellis and Michael Boury) Named after ELlis BourY. Originally acquired the Big Boy rights to northern West Virginia through Shoney's.[28] In 1966 Elby's expanded Big Boy into bordering Ohio counties, licensed through Frisch's, and into Pennsylvania as franchisor. When Frisch's refused existing terms on a third Ohio unit in 1971, Elby's dropped Big Boy affiliation in Ohio, leading to a long running trademark battle by Frisch's. In 1984 Elby's dropped Big Boy overall when Shoney's—franchisor for Elby's West Virginia stores—broke affiliation.[35] Opened units in Maryland and Virginia after leaving Big Boy. Elby's was sold to Elias Brothers in 1988 becoming Big Boy again. Although officially stripped of the Elby's name, identity was so strong that the Elby's name continued in print advertisements.[20][36] The last remaining Elby's closed in 2000 in response to the Elias Brothers financial crisis.
  • Elias Brothers (Michigan, Northeastern Ohio, Ontario, Canada, 1952–2000, founded by Fred, John and Louis Elias) In 1938 the brothers opened Fred's Chili Bowl in Detroit and later the Dixie Drive-In in Hazel Park, which would become the first Elias Brothers Big Boy. Considered the "first official franchisee" because they were the first to formally apply to Bob Wian.[37] Worked with Wian, Schoenbaum and Manfred Bernhard to create the iconic 1956 Big Boy character design and launch the comic book. Owned the Big Boy system from 1987 through 2000 when the bankrupt company was sold to Robert Liggett. Many Michigan units continue operations stripped of the Elias Brothers name and these are the vast majority (90%) of Big Boy Restaurants International's American Big Boy stores. Fred Elias became an original member of the Big Boy Board of Directors.
  • Franklin's (Eastern Pennsylvania, 1966–1984, founded by Marvin and Joseph Franklin) Subfranchised by and originally operated as Elby's. After dropping Big Boy affiliation, Franklin's adopted a Benjamin Franklin theme renaming the signature hamburger "Big Boy" as "Big Ben". Sold the 12 unit chain to Hershey's Foods and Friendly's Restaurants in 1985.
  • Frejlach's (Illinois, 1954–196?, founded by Irvin Frejlach) Added Big Boy to their established chain of ice cream shops.[38] Unlike other franchisees, the stores did not directly use the Big Boy name; they remained Frejlach's Ice Cream Shoppes not Frejlach's Big Boy.[39] Irvin's brother Lucian "Lou" Frejlach became an original member of the Big Boy Board of Directors.
  • Frisch's (Ohio, Kentucky, S. Indiana, Tennessee; Florida until the early 1990s, 1948+, founded by David Frisch) The Cincinnati restaurant chain and first franchisee, began serving Big Boy hamburgers in 1946, but opened their first Big Boy Drive-In restaurant in 1948; Frisch's now operates 95 Big Boys and franchises 26 Big Boys to others. Frisch's subfranchised to Azar's and Manners, which used the Frisch's styled Big Boy, to Milton and David Bennett in 1955, who operate as Frisch's in northwest Ohio and also licensed Elby's to operate two Big Boy units in the upper Ohio Valley until 1971. In 2001 Frisch's became the perpetual owner of the Big Boy trademark in most of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee, and relinquished all other Big Boy territories to Big Boy Restaurants International, to whom Frisch's is no longer a franchisee or licensee. On August 24, 2015, Frisch's was sold to an Atlanta-based private equity fund, ending family ownership and control of the chain.[11][35][40]
  • JB's (Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Washington, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Nebraska, Kansas, New Jersey, Connecticut; 1961–1988, founded by Jack M. Broberg.) The first JB's Big Boy opened in 1961 in Provo, Utah. In the 1970s JB's expanded by acquiring neighboring Big Boy franchisees: Vip's, Leo's, Kebo's and Bud's. In 1984 JB's attempted to break from Big Boy but settled in exchange for additional territory, including central and northern California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona where it operated as Bob's Big Boy.[41] Citing the sale of Big Boy to Elias Brothers, in 1988 JB's allowed its Big Boy franchise to expire, removing 107 units from the Big Boy system. Currently 22 JB's Restaurants operate in six states.
  • JB's (Canada - Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, 1969–1979, founded by John Bitove, Sr.) Bitove, a well known Canadian businessman, was the franchisee for Canada generally, along with Roy Rogers Restaurants, both Marriott owned brands. JB's of Canada grew to 32 Big Boy restaurants before selling to Elias Brothers.[42]
  • Kebo's (Seattle and Tacoma, Washington area before JB's dba Bob's, ?–1974, founded by W. Keith Grant.) "Kebo" came from the owners, Keith, Ed and BOb. Two units were sold to JB's in 1974.
  • Ken's (Maryland - suburban Washington DC, 1963–?, founded by Bill Bemis) named in honor of Bill Bemis' father Ken Bemis, who founded the White Log Coffee Shop chain. "Ken's" became "Bob's" in the late 1960s.
  • Kip's (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, 1958–1991, founded Fred Bell, Thomas W. Holman and James Reed) Bell owned and operated Kip's of Texas, while Holman and Reed owned and operated Kip's of Oklahoma and Kansas.[43] Acquired by Frisch's in 1972. Kip's territory was transferred to Big Boy Restaurants International in 2001. Bell became an original member of the Big Boy Board of Directors.
  • Lendy's (Western Virginia, 1955–1964, founded by Leonard Goldstein) Owned by Goldstein but operated as Shoney's 1955-1959. Territory proximity to Yoda's angered Goldstein and concurrent franchise with Kentucky Fried Chicken antagonized franchisor Alex Schoenbaum, prompting Lendy's to leave Big Boy.[44][45] Renamed the "Big Boy" hamburger as the "Buddy Boy" and created a Buddy Boy mascot similar to Frisch's Big Boy character.
  • Leo's (Spokane, Washington, Montana, 1968–1971, founded by Leo A. Hansen, Jr.[46]) The first Leo's Big Boy opened in Great Falls, Montana in 1968. Grew to four units before being acquired by and renamed JB's in 1971.
  • Manners (Northeastern Ohio (Cleveland TV market), 1954–1979, founded by Robert L. and Ramona Manners) Franchisee through Frisch's, used the Frisch styled mascot design. Like Frisch's, Manners was already established having opened Manners Drive-In in 1939, 15 years before becoming a Big Boy franchisee.[47] Paid Frisch's $10 per month for each location. In 1968 Manners Big Boy was sold to Consolidated Foods (now known as Sara Lee Corporation). Marriott purchased the 39 units in 1974 and five years later dropped the name "Manners".[48]
  • Marc's (Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, 1958–1995, founded by Ben Marcus and Gene Kilberg) were owned by the Marcus Corporation. Some were sold, others were converted to Marc's Cafe & Coffee Mill and later Annie's American Cafe. Most now operate as Perkins.
  • McDowell's (North Dakota, 1954–1960 independently as "Big Boy Drive-Inn", 1960+ as franchise, founded by Harley McDowell) A trademark infringement suit against McDowell was filed by Wian in 1959 ultimately resulting in a franchise agreement.[19] Operates exclusively as a drive through. McDowell's name was dropped and the remaining store is now called the Bismarck Big Boy.
  • Mr. B's (New Hampshire, 1963–1969,[49] founded by Manfred Bernhard)[50][51]
  • Shap's (Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1959–1964?, founded by I. Shapiro, Pem Cooley, and E. D. Latimer) Franchised by Shoney's. Shap's was abbreviated for Shapiro's. Operated two small units in Chattanooga. Latimer bought out the other partners and changed the name to its franchisor's, Shoney's.[52]
  • Shoney's/Parkette (Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Philadelphia, PA, 1952–1984, founded by Alex Schoenbaum), Originally called the Parkette, in 1952 it became Parkette Big Boy Shoppes. An unrelated "Parkette Drive-In" had opened in Kentucky so in 1954, a public contest for a new name resulted in Parkette becoming Shoney's, which was also a reference to founder Alex "Shoney" Schoenbaum. Shoney's was a charter Big Boy franchisee and by 1984 became the largest franchisee operating 392 Shoney's Big Boy units.[53] Shoney's also subfranchised to Becker's, Elby's, Shap's, Yoda's and Lendy's.[28] Shoney's dropped its relationship with Big Boy in 1984 in order to expand into neighboring states where other franchisees owned the trademark.[54] Schoenbaum became an original member of the Big Boy Board of Directors.
  • Ted's (Rhode Island, Eastern Massachusetts) Massachusetts was divided between Ted's Big Boy in the east and Abdow's Big Boy in the west, corresponding to the division of Rhode Island and Connecticut between the two franchises.
  • TJ's (Rochester and Syracuse, NY, founded by Anthony T. Kolinski, John Gazda and John Giamartino, 1972–?)[55] The four stores were purchased by Big Boy (Elias Brothers). The two Rochester stores were closed in 1992, and one Syracuse store was sold to a local investor.
  • Tops (Illinois, 1956–1993, founded by Lucian Frejlach[56])
  • Tote's (St. Louis area before Shoney's, founded by Edward R. Todtenbier)
  • Tune's (metro Philadelphia, 195?, founders unknown) In the mid to late 1950s Alex Schoenbaum seeded various franchises including Tune's.[28][57] Two drive-in restaurants opened. By the early 1960s, one closed and the other was purchased by and rebranded as Shoney's.
  • Vip's (New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming,[58] 1962–1972. founded by Daniel T. Hogan and James O'Conner[59]) Vip's refers to two distinct restaurant chains. The Big Boy franchisee relevant here, Vip's Big Boy of New Mexico, was acquired by JB's Big Boy in 1972.[60] The other, Vip's Restaurants of Salem, Oregon, was not a Big Boy franchisee but sold units to JB's Big Boy, which operated them as Bob's Big Boy.[41] The non-Big Boy, Salem-based chain had 53 locations at its peak, all sold and rebranded, including 35 to Denny's in 1982 and 16 to JB's in 1984.[61]
  • Yoda's (Western Virginia, founded by Jack Young and Bill Schroeder) Young was Leonard Goldstein's (Lendy's) brother-in-law. Merged with Lendy's.[45]
A Big Boy Restaurant in Chōfu, Tokyo, Japan.

Mady's Big Boy of Windsor, Ontario was not a franchisee, though sometimes identified as one and using a similar looking mascot.[62] In 1965 Bob Wian sued Mady's for trademark infringement but failed because (his) Big Boy was judged not widely known in Canada. The case is considered important in Canadian and international trademark law.[63] In 1973 Elias Brothers bought Mady's and established an Elias Big Boy on Mady's original site.[64] John Bitove, Sr. owned the rights to Big Boy for the remainder of Canada, which he sold to Elias Brothers in 1979.[42]

Outside of North America, Big Boy Japan owns and operates 279 Big Boy Hamburger Steak & Grill Restaurants throughout Japan. Founded in 1977, Big Boy Japan now also operates 45 Victoria Station restaurants in Japan and is a subsidiary of Zénsho Holdings Co., Ltd.[2][7][65] The Japanese Big Boy Restaurants do not offer the Big Boy hamburger or most other American Big Boy menu items, offering a distinct menu instead.[66] They also offer beer and wine.[66]

Big Boy also operated (or planned to open) restaurants in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, the Philippines and Thailand.

In addition, Big Boy established @burger, a new concept casual dining restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is now closed.[67]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the 2008 comedy Sex Drive, Ian Lafferty goes on a cross-country road trip to meet his online date, Ms. Tasty, beside a Big Boy's restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee.[69]
  • Big Boy is referenced in the Japanese manga Tokyo Ghoul with the name changed to Big Girl, assumedly for trademark purposes.
  • The Big Boy mascot appears as a main character in the 2009 short film Logorama.
  • The Lard Lad Donuts mascot in the animated TV sitcom The Simpsons is a parody of the Big Boy mascot.[71]

Mascot Usage[edit]

The Big Boy mascot was used as a mascot for BBYO chapter Achim AZA #1016 in LOR (Lake Ontario Region); it was recently changed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Slavin, Barbara (August 9, 1978). "Drive-ins and carhops are things of the past". The Day (New London, CT). New York Times News Service. p. 5. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "About Us". Big Boy Japan. Retrieved July 25, 2015. (in April 2015 currently) ... Big Boy 279 stores [translated by Google] 
  3. ^ "Comments." Big Boy. Retrieved on November 23, 2012. "4199 Marcy St. Warren, MI 48091"
  4. ^ a b "Big Boy Restaurant & Bakery/Frisch's Big Boy". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved June 15, 2015. The Big Boy system has restaurants operated by and franchised to others by Big Boy Restaurants International LLC and Frisch’s Restaurants Inc. ... Headquarters: Big Boy Restaurants International LLC – Warren, Mich./Frisch’s Restaurants Inc. – Cincinnati, Ohio ... CEO: Big Boy International – Keith Sirois/Frisch’s – Craig F. Maier 
  5. ^ Hansen, Christian (2002). The Big Boy Story: "King of Them All". Santa Barbara: Haagen Printing. p. 11. ISBN 978-0967194363. 
  6. ^ "Locations: Big Boy". Retrieved January 20, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Zensho Group: Big Boy, Hamburger Steak & Grill Restaurant". Zénsho Holdings Company. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Transfer Agreement between The Liggett Restaurant Group and Frisch's Restaurants, Inc.", January 12, 2001.
  9. ^ "Agreement Regarding Use of Trademarks", November 7, 2007.
  10. ^ "Order of United States Patent and Trademark Office, Concurrent Use Proceeding Number 94002189", Big Boy Restaurants International, LLC and Frisch's Restaurants, Inc. August 18, 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Frisch's Restaurants Announces Transaction with Affiliate of NRD Partners I, L.P. at $34 Per Share" (Press release). Cincinnati: Frisch's Restaurants. PR Newswire. May 22, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015. Agreement Contemplates Continued Operation of all 95 Company Owned Frisch's Restaurants along with 26 Franchised Locations 
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73.Appel, Hailey, Hannah Aviv, Josh Sieger, Ally Harendorf, and Aaron Ovadia. "Achim AZA #1016." 2014-2015. Toronto: BBYO, 2015. 6. Print.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hansen, Christian (2002). The Big Boy Story: "King of Them All". Haagen Printing. ISBN 978-0967194363. 
  • Langdon, Philip (1986). Orange Roofs, Golden Arches: The Architecture of American Chain Restaurants. Knopf. ISBN 978-0394741291. 

External links[edit]

Big Boy Company Sites
Other Sites