Bob's Big Boy former L.A. locations

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TheStranger
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Post by TheStranger » 08 Jan 2007 21:54

I think the special sauce recipe between Bob's and Frisch's is different, judging from what I've seen on each of their sites...Frisch's also offers an Indianapolis-area delicacy, fried pork tenderloin sandwiches, in its locations (my best friend tried one of theirs and said it was pretty decent).

The Bob's Big Boy burger I tried in Burbank in 05 reminded me of a better Big Mac.
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javelin
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Post by javelin » 09 Jan 2007 00:07

TheStranger wrote:Speaking of Bob's, one of their newest locations takes over ANOTHER SoCal landmark, out in Baker. (Link was provided to me by a friend at another forum)

http://www.lottaliving.com/bb/viewtopic ... 544fc2109a
Last year it was the Harvey House in Barstow. Between that time and the last, it was 3 years since I had been to a Big Boy, and it will probably be another 3 years before I ever go back to one...with the exception of Toluca Lake, only because of car shows and the classic look of the building.

Which doesn't say much for the food or service, both are always unusually cold. What will hurt them is the push to franchise, with varying degrees of service standards. If they wanted to start off well, they'd open as many company owned stores as possible, and set very high standards for the franchisees. I'd really like to see them succeed, but I don't think it's going to last.

The two local coffee shop chains I can think of that are always consistently good are Norm's and Spires. BBB should send some of their execs there for breakfast and learn what customer service should be.

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Dave
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Post by Dave » 09 Jan 2007 07:44

The Big Boy franchise history is pretty interesting. There are others, like Shoney's, that dropped the Big Boy affiliation long ago but still survive, like Eat 'N Park out of Pittsburgh.

Roanoke, VA was even divided into two territories, split between Lendy's and Yoda's. Richmond was Shoney's territory, with Lendy's coming to town after they had dropped the Big Boy franchise, although Lendy's had kept the same menu items (the "Big Boy" becoming the "Buddy Boy").

To add to the general confusion, Lendy's began as a franchise of Shoney's Big Boy.

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Post by Steve Landry » 09 Jan 2007 13:13

BTW..........I may be mistaken but, I seem to remember that Azar's Big Boy was in Denver also?
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krogerclerk
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Post by krogerclerk » 09 Jan 2007 16:42

As Rich stated, Shoney's still has a "Big Boy-like" menu. I recall the food being better in the Big Boy days, and it going downhill in the years since.
The busier locations seem to survive by focusing on the Breakfast Bar/Salad Bar/Food Bar/Seafood Buffet rather than the menu and service.
They have become little different from the popular priced steak houses turned buffet. They tend to be left only in areas where there is no Dennys, IHOPs, Perkins's or other chain coffee shops close by with a few exceptions. The signature dessert line of strawberry pie and hot fudge cake is still around and I think the Big Boy is called the Shoney burger. I don't think the Reuben or Slim Jim is around anymore.

I remember Shoney's being absent from Florida as a child, but never noticed Bob's Big Boy being around, Florida seemed to be a big market for Denny's and Wag's in those days. The first Shoney's I saw in Florida was in Lake City, and it was Shoney's Town and Country rather than a Shoney's Big Boy. All Shoney's were still Big Boys here and I now wonder if they sacrificed the franchise willingly in order to expand into Florida or if the Florida expansion cost them the Big Boy franchise. Also, not only have the casual dining chains, while only slighty more expesive, taking Shoney's clientele in the South, Cracker Barrel has taken the popular priced family dinner customer that prefers the menu over the buffet.

Elby's Big Boy in Gettysburg, PA was the first non-Shoney's Big Boy I experienced and found it virtually a clone of Shoney's down to the menu and architecture. I never at at Bob's until they expanded into Tennessee in the early 90's in Sevierville-Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge and one across the Smoky Mountains Park in Cherokee, the three in Tennessee are closed while the Big Boy in Cherokee was open only for breakfast and lunch and emphasizing the buffet over the menu. The last time I was there(fall 2005), I didn't even notice whether it was still in business.
It's not located near the casino, and has been bypassed by the expansion brought by the casino. In California I saw plenty of Coco's in buildings that had the obvious Big Boy architecture and saw very few Bob's. Marie Callender's, Denny's and IHOP seemed to be thriving in Southern California as compared to their eastern counterparts.

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Post by Edric Floyd » 09 Jan 2007 18:48

We have a former Bob's big boy here in Georgia.

It closed as a Shoneys almost 10 years ago.

http://www.edricfloyd.com/oldschoolretail-shoneys.html

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Dave
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Post by Dave » 10 Jan 2007 09:23

Edric Floyd wrote:We have a former Bob's big boy here in Georgia.

It closed as a Shoneys almost 10 years ago.

http://www.edricfloyd.com/oldschoolretail-shoneys.html
Shoney's had the Southeast territory for Big Boy. After they gave up the franchise, Bob's took over the territory. I saw one reference that said this was in the 1980's, but I seem to recall that Shoney's had dropped the Big Boy back in the 1970's.

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Post by Edric Floyd » 10 Jan 2007 09:41

In Florida, I recall Bob's Big boy as the main restaurant available in the old Florida Turnpike service centers. This was until the late 1980's when they began to replace the 1960's vintage "service plazas", demolishing and building new centers with food courts and gift shops.

After Bobs Big Boy disappeared from Florida's Turnpike, in South Florida (my hometown area) we had Shoney's in many areas but they were all gone within a decade. The Shoney's my family frequented was in Margate on Atlantic Blvd.

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Post by TheQuestioner » 10 Jan 2007 17:27

Dave wrote:
Edric Floyd wrote:We have a former Bob's big boy here in Georgia.

It closed as a Shoneys almost 10 years ago.

http://www.edricfloyd.com/oldschoolretail-shoneys.html
Shoney's had the Southeast territory for Big Boy. After they gave up the franchise, Bob's took over the territory. I saw one reference that said this was in the 1980's, but I seem to recall that Shoney's had dropped the Big Boy back in the 1970's.
The Georgia Big Boy building's style of roof looks a lot like the late 60's/ early 70's Big Boys that were built around DC and in CA, but the "Coffee Shop" sign and stone walls are much more 50's/early 60's, when Big Boy had more "Googie" looking buildings than in the 70's. Interesting mix, I wonder when it was originally built? The Colonial-style sign is also something I have never seen with Big Boy, though the two seperate signs aligned one above the other was used at lot of older Big Boy locations, but they were usually rounded rectangles like a TV shape.

I would place the "secession" of Shoney's from the Big Boy union around 1986-88. I visited Shoney's in southern VA in the early to mid 80's, and they were still BB but they were already somewhat different than the Bob's around DC. They had their own version of the Big Boy comic, done by what appeared to be a different artist. Big Boy was drawn as a taller, slightly older boy, and was kind of brawny like Lil' Abner. By the late 80's, Shoney's had replaced Big Boy with a bear character, and still had a comic featuring this bear. I don't recall any comics or other bear merchandise by the time Shoney's came to DC, but then, I didn't go there very often. The food and ice cream wasn't nearly as good to me as Bob's, and some of my favorite menu items were missing. I don't think they had the hot fudge cake at that time, though it sounds like it's back now.

On a side note: Does anyone recall Big Boy up in New England before the 90's? In the 70's and 80's, HoJo was still king of that dining segment around there, and I never saw a Big Boy there until the late 80's/early 90's, after Marriott had bought out HoJo's. But on the old comics, it listed a franchisee for the northeast. I can't recall the name, but I never saw one in all my travels in New England and no one I knew up there ever visited one. I wonder how different/similar they were to Bob's. Frisch's is the only one I've heard of with any moderately major menu differences, even their boy looks different! But I didn't really notice much different in other BB's I've visited around the country.

Yeah, the service plaza HoJo's (and later Big Boy's) gave those chains a terrible rep in some parts. I remember the decline of the NJ Turnpike restaurants. I think they have mostly been torn down, and what few remain have been subdivided into McDonalds or Burger King and other food court typle places. There are a couple of Big Boy's in service plazas in northern MD and Delaware, but other than that, I think the only one left on the east coast is somewhere in North Carolina.

I would really like to see HoJo and Big Boy reclaim at least some of the family restaurant/casual dining market in this country. I, for one, don't care for the flavor and preparations at most of these newer restaurants like Applebee's and Chili's. They may make their tex-mex or other more "modern" dishes well enough, but they just don't do the burger-fries-shake thing all that well, if at all. I would hate to see Denny's be the only place like this to survive. Denny's really doesn't cut it as the sole heir to this kind of cuisine, IMHO.

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Post by rich » 10 Jan 2007 17:47

The service plaza HoJos in Eastern Ohio on the Turnpike weren't nearly as bad as the ones on the East Coast and they were a bit better than the plazas run by Gladieux (a Toledo-based catering) on the Western half of the Turnpike. One problem with HoJo is that they never really updated their menu. The fried clams were becoming an ananchronism by the 70s and the ice cream became less competitive when premium brands came into the picture, although I always liked their ice cream.

One other thing that hurt tem was the decline of HoJo "motor hotels", which always had a restaurant, located so that it could attract non-hotel customers. There was little investment after the 60s and the decline was evident by the early 80s. By then, many of their locations had become less competitive and the hotels themseleves tended toward neglect. Ramada went though a decline right around the same time. I've had some recent good experiences in HoJo motels (the newest one had no restaurant, of any kind), but they remain a very uneven operation. Ditto Ramada.

There were Big Boys in new England, at least in Connecticut, around 79-81. I forget who the local franchisee was. They seemed to be concentrated in the smaller cities rather than around Hartford & New haven. I don't think they were in Fairfield County, which is mostly suburbs of NYC.

Shoneys definitely was just Shoneys by '88 (when I lived in their territory). I think the break may have come even before '86. Perhaps, it had something to do with their ambitious plans for territorial expansion. Now, of course, they seem to be receding all over the Southeast.

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Post by krogerclerk » 10 Jan 2007 17:49

The colonial style sign is a Shoney's thing. The architecture seems more like a 1970's Shoney's Big Boy. It's a possibility that it started as Shoney's Big Boy and when Shoney's dropped from the franchise, it became a Bob's Big Boy and then back to a non-Big Boy Shoney's after Bob's. I know the Dalton Shoney's was a Big Boy until 1983 when it relocated one exit further south into a former Sambo's, since razed and rebuilt as a Shoney's. The former Sambo's was simply a Shoney's. The original Shoney's survives as a local bar/grill and looks much like the Warner Robins restaurant, but the signage had Big Boy pictured and the signage for the Oyster Bar, as its called, utilizes the blacked out sign frame. The manager of the Shoney's Big Boy had said at the time that the Shoney's Big Boy would stay open and the Sambo's was going to open as a Shoney's Town and Country, but it never happened.

The only other Georgia Bob's I have knowledge of was in Valdosta, in the early to mid-90's. It was across the street from a Shoney's that was originally a Shoney's Big Boy and maybe 50 miles north of the Shoney's Town and Country in Lake City, Florida.

Now for other Big Boy franchises, can recall Elby's, P.j.'s or J.P.s along with Frishch's, Elias Bros, and Bob's. I don't recall a Lendy's Big Boy, but have seen Lendy's in Roanoke. Lendy's was also an early Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, but their Big Boy were bannered Shoney's from what I have read with the occasional dual franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken/Big Boy in one restaurant. I read this caused friction with Shoney's who pulled the Big Boy franchise from Lendy's.

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Post by krogerclerk » 10 Jan 2007 18:11

I'll correct myself with regards to Lendy's. Lendy's operated Shoney's Big Boys on one side of Roanoke and Lendy's Buddy Boy on the other side where the brother-in-law of Lendy's owner Leonard Goldstein operated another Big Boy franchise, Yoda's. Lendy's used the Shoney's name from 1955-1959 and Lendy's Big Boy from 59-61 after which all became Lendy's Buddy Boy (featuring Kentucky Fried Chicken). The Buddy Boy was the Big Boy doubledecker and the Longfellow was the Slim Jim. Buddy Boy looked more like Frisch's Big Boy mascot than the other Big Boys. Eventually family rivalry ended and Yoda's merged into Lendy's in the early 60's.

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Post by TheQuestioner » 11 Jan 2007 18:39

I started rummaging around the web to find out more about New England's Big Boy's, and came across something odd.

Abdow's was the name for Big Boy in New England, though I haven't been able to find out much about how much of the northeast they covered. However, one article I found suggests that Abdow's actually began around the Wash. DC area in the late 50's, and that the restaurants may have all bee drive-in format, rather than coffee shops like most Big Boy franchises.

From what I've gathered online and from other retail history boards, Big Boy had a limited presence in the DC area before the late 60's, when Marriott bought the chain and expanded "Bob's" in the DC area. What few Big Boys there were in the area up until then were probably under another name than Bob's. I had never heard the Abdow's name around DC, but apparently but there were 5 restaurants in MD, DC, and VA in the 50's. Eli Abdow, the franchiser, decided to expand into Mass. in the late 50's, first opening a drive-in called Speedy's with no "Big Boy" in the name, but featuring a similar menu. I have never heard of any "drive-in" Big Boy's other than the first one on Toluca Lake CA, but I suppose there could have been franchisees who were "car hop" rather than "coffee shop" back then. The DC area locations others have confirmed that existed before Marriott's ownership seemed to all be conversions of existing coffee shops, no drive-in's that anyone has heard of.

The source article is linked below:

http://64.166.24.148/submissions/gonebu ... ry=SPEEDYS

If any of the original Abdow's were still operating around DC by 1967, I'm sure Marriott converted them to Bob's or closed them. I have read elsewhere that the DC-area Tops drive-in chain used the Big Boy sandwich and possibly the Big Boy character under contract from Bob Wian, but didn't use the name or other elements. The few images I have seen of Tops showed a character who looked kind of like Big Boy and in a similar pose, but he was wearing a top hat and tux. I am kind of surprised that such a large modification would have been allowed in the franchise agreement, but Frisch's Big Boy also looks rather different from the "real" Big Boy, so I guess it's conceivable.

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Post by javelin » 12 Jan 2007 02:41

TheQuestioner wrote:I have never heard of any "drive-in" Big Boy's other than the first one on Toluca Lake CA, but I suppose there could have been franchisees who were "car hop" rather than "coffee shop" back then.
Ahem...the location in Downey? I remember the silver trays they'd bring out and attach to your car window. Not that there were many who parked in the car hop section.

So what happened to that location? Anyone?

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Dave
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Post by Dave » 12 Jan 2007 07:43

The Shoney's Big Boys in Richmond on West Broad and Belt Boulevard had curb service as did the Lendy's Big Boys. Check out Lendy's "Tele-Trays" on this site. Shoney's used the same setup in Richmond. http://members.cox.net/lendys/lendys5.htm

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