Big Boy Restaurants launched in 1936 and until this weekend I had never seen one in person. The chain began in Glendale, California but moved its headquarters to Warren, Michigan in the late 1980s by one of the many owners the restaurant has seen over the years. There are 455 Big Boy restaurants in the United States and Canada. Over one hundred of those locations are in Michigan and of those Flopsy and I managed to see seven on a Michigan road trip Saturday.
The original man behind the brand was Bob Wian who owned and operated a small space called “Bob’s Pantry. One day a visit by a nearby orchestra hankering for something different inspired his creation of a three-bun, two patty burger that is still a bestselling item to this day. A chubby youngster who entered the restaurant inspired the name, which took off not just as the sandwich’s moniker but as the new name to the diner as well. Another customer sketched a curly haired boy on a napkin and that, in turn inspired the logo and the iconic statue that welcomes diners in.
Of the seven restaurants I saw only five of them had that familiar boy. While each of these Michigan roadside attractions had a strikingly similar look there were variations to each restaurant providing a unique yet familiar experience to any diner in any city.
Big Boy #1 – I-94 Exit 23 in Michigan
Location:4641 Red Arrow Highway, Stevensville, MI 49127 (I-94 at Exit 23)
Big Boy #2 – I-94 Exit 138
Location: I-94 at Exit 138
Big Boy #3 – I-94 Exit 159
Location: I-94 at Exit 159
Big Boy #4 – I-94 Exit 169
Location: I-94 at Exit 169
Big Boy #5 – I-94 Exit 175
Location: I-94 at Exit 175