Big Boy Restaurants & Statues (page 1)

(hit "refresh" to get the most recent version of this page; click on photos for larger images)

The history of Bob's Big Boy and Big Boy restaurants can be traced back to 1936 when Bob Wian bought a local Glendale restaurant and named it Bob's Pantry. Wian supposedly originated the double-decker hamburger and came up with the Big Boy character. Bob's Big Boy became a California chain and began franchising in the 1940s. Unlike other chains like McDonald's, Wian did not require uniformity. Franchise owners were free to name their restaurants whatever they wanted. The restaurants were known as Frisch's Big Boy and Manners Big Boy in Ohio. Frisch's and Manners Big Boy restaurants used the same skinnier, running boy as their mascot. In the late 1970s, Manners locations became Bob's Big Boy restaurants.

The restaurants were known as Elias Brothers Big Boy restaurants in Michigan, Northeastern Ohio, and Ontario. The Elias brothers had their own restaurants before becoming a Big Boy franchisee in 1952. The company kept the Elias name and added the Big Boy character and "Home of the Big Boy" to their signs and advertising. In 1987, they acquired the Big Boy chain's franchise rights from Marriott Corp. Big Boy is now Michigan-based and has about 450 restaurants in California, Arizona, Hawaii, North Dakota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, and 3.

former Bob's Big Boy
Los Angeles, CA
This former Bob's Big Boy housed the Panang Restaurant when this photo was taken in 2012. The building now houses Thai Coconut. It was originally known as the Hinky Dick restaurant. It became a Bob's Big Boy in 1937. It closed in the mid-1970s. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Bob's Big Boy
Burbank, CA
This Bob's Big Boy was designed by Wayne McAllister and built in 1949. It is the oldest restaurant left in the chain. The building was saved in the early 1990s and restored to its original design. It is now the top revenue-producing Big Boy in the country. The Big Boy statues were produced by International Fiberglass in the 1960s. In the early 1980s, Big Boy had FAST of Sparta, WI produce about 100 new statues. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. [map]

former Kip's Big Boy
El Paso, TX


This former Kip's Big Boy was built in 1957. The "Coffee Shop" sign on the building and the now-adapted pole sign are from then. I assume the pole sign looked just like the one in Burbank shown above but with "Kip's" instead of "Bob's." I don't know if the "Pancakes" sign is from then or if it was there earlier. The building began housing The Clock Family Resturant around 1959. By the 1970s, the name had been changed to the New Clock Family Restaurant. In 2011, the freestanding sign's circular panel was replaced with a clock graphic. For more, see this website. [map]

Boomers Bike Shop
Clarkston, MI
Hi-Boy Sandwich Shop [gone]
Lyndonville, VT
former Big Boy
Northridge, CA
Boomers Bike Shop, a motorcycle store, has turned this Big Boy into Biker Boy. The statue is about nine feet tall. [map]

The Hi-Boy Sandwich Shop had a Big Boy statue on the roof. The statue was altered to hold a plate with a sandwich instead of a burger. The building now houses the Pizza Man and the statue is gone. For more, see this website.

The arm of a former Big Boy statue has been put to use as a mailbox at this residence. [map]

Nick's Barbecue
Burbank, IL
Enzo's End Pizzeria
Denver, CO
Bell Plastics
Hayward, CA
Reiff's Gas Station Museum
Woodland, CA
Nick's Barbecue features a Big Boy-like statue. I don't know whether it was inspired by the Big Boy statue or if it is actually one that has been heavily adapted. Nick's Barbecue has another location in Palos Heights, IL but it doesn't appear to have a statue like this one. [map]

This Big Boy statue at Enzo's End Pizzeria came from Hammond, IN. There, he stood in front of a candy store where he was known as Candy Andy. In 2010, the statue was installed on the roof of Enzo's after being adapted to hold a pizza platter. The statue is now nicknamed Big Enzo. For more, see this website. [map]

The Big Boy statue at Bell Plastics is one of the rare "suspenders" type statues (or a copy of one) like those shown in Livonia, MI and Ann Arbor, MI below. This statue had been modified with brass knuckles and earrings when the owner purchased him. He has been named "Bad Bob." The owner was in the middle of painting the statue when this photo was taken in 2017. There are many other fiberglass statues on display at this business. [map]

The Big Boy statue at Reiff's Gas Station Museum looks like it has a broader face to me. The statue seems to have less of a smile than the other ones. I don't know if Big Boy made different models or if this could be a knockoff. [map]

Dari Joy
Bellows Falls, VT
Dari Joy has been serving ice cream here since 1952. The Big Boy statue has been here since the 1960s. The statue, nicknamed the Big Joy Boy, has been modified to wave. I believe the statue is put in storage for winter. [photo at right thanks DinerFan] [map]

Bob's Big Boy [gone]
Hesperia, CA
Bob's Big Boy
Alhambra, CA
Bob's Big Boy
St. Louis, MO
Bob's Big Boy
Escondido, CA

Bob's Big Boy [gone]
Tonopah, NV
Bob's Big Boy
Norco, CA
Bob's Big Boy
Hesperia, CA
This Bob's Big Boy (#188) opened in 1982. It closed by 2011 and this statue was removed. [photo thanks Glenda Campbell]

The Bob's Big Boy statue in Alhambra is located inside Noodle World. The building had housed a Big Boy restaurant until 1996. Noodle World's owner bought the statue at a flea market. He pays Big Boy $1 per year for the right to display the statue. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2.

This Big Boy statue in St. Louis is located inside the City Museum. [photo thanks Glenda Campbell]

This Big Boy statue in Escondido is located at the Deer Park Winery & Auto Museum.

The Bob's Big Boy statue in Tonopah was installed in front of the Tonopah Station Hotel & Casino restaurant. It had been there since around 2008. I don't believe there was ever a Bob's Big Boy restaurant there. This photo is from 2017. By 2018, the statue was gone.

The Big Boy restaurant in Norco has two Big Boy statues. One of them was custom built in 2009 as a cowboy. Norco is known as Horsetown USA. For more, see this website. [map]

This Big Boy statue in Hesperia is located at Main Street Collectors which produces and sells fiberglass statues. This cowboy appears to be from a different mold from the one in Norco. The hat and burger are different. This shop produces the standard Big Boy statues as well.

Kennedy's Cakes and Donuts [gone]
Cambridge, OH
Kennedy's Cakes and Donuts had a repainted Bob's Big Boy statue next to the building. The statue's hamburger leaned against the side of the building. These photos are from 2006. This classic Big Boy statue is 10 feet tall and holds a 40 inch hamburger. In 2014, the statue was sold and removed. Its new location is unknown.

Big Boy [gone]
Livonia, MI
Big Boy [gone]
Brighton, MI
Big Boy
Coldwater, MI
Big Boy [gone]
Fenton, MI
Big Boy [gone]
Alma, MI
Big Boy [gone]
Detroit, MI
Big Boy
Mason, MI
Big Boy
Novi, MI
Big Boy [gone]
Ann Arbor, MI
Big Boy [gone]
Township, MI
Big Boy
Chesterfield, MI
Big Boy [gone]
Milan, MI
Big Boy [gone]
Waterford, MI
There are still lots of old Big Boy restaurants in Michigan and they are still being built.

The Livonia location featured a revolving Big Boy statue on top of its sign. I don't know of any other Big Boy's that have a sign like this or if this one was unique. The Big Boy statue in front of the restaurant held both of his suspenders instead of a burger. I believe this is an older, rarer 1950s Big Boy statue. There was also another sign on the side street entrance that I missed. These photos are from 2011. By 2014, this location had closed and the statues and signs were gone. For more, see this website.

The Brighton location's statue also revolved. There are still a few signs of this design in Michigan. These photos are from 2011. By 2015, the statue and sign had been replaced with a small backlit plastic box sign.

The Coldwater statue is installed on top of the restaurant's sign. For more, see this website. [map]

The Fenton location also had a sign with a statue on top. The location closed in 2017 and the statue was gone.

I believe this Alma sign was the only one of its kind left. By 2018, the restaurant had become Piper's Grill & Brew and the statue was gone.

The Detroit Big Boy statue still revolved on top of the sign when these photos were taken in 2011. This was the only Big Boy location in Detroit. It had closed by 2017 and the statue was gone.

The Mason Big Boy statue is installed on the corner of the property, acting as a sign for passing traffic. [map]

The Novi Big Boy statue is believed to have come from a Saginaw location when it closed. [map]

The Ann Arbor Big Boy had a "Suspenders Bob" statue like the one in Livonia shown above. I believe this statue is gone now. I don't know of any others like this still on public display. [photo thanks Mark Comstock]

The Pittsfield Township location was built in 2005 and closed in 2009. This Big Boy statue is installed in front of the restaurant.

The Chesterfield Big Boy statue spins above the sign. [map]

The Milan Big Boy statue had been here since at least the 1980s. This photo is from 2008. By 2011, the restaurant and sign were still there but the statue was gone.

The Waterford Big Boy had another statue example perched on top of a sign. This photo is from 2008. By 2015, the restaurant, statue, and sign were gone.

More Big Boy statues:
Fort Smith, AR
Willimantic, CT
Burbank, CA
Long Beach, CA
Gaylord, MI [map]
Sault Ste. Marie, MI [vintage; gone]
Southfield, MI [map]
St. Ignace, MI [map]
St. Louis, MO
Wapiti, WY
Kaatsheuvel, Holland

former Big Boy [gone]
Farmington, MI
This Big Boy restaurant was built in 1968. There was a Big Boy statue in front of the building. The old sign had been replaced with a modern, plastic one when these photos were taken in 2005. This location has since closed and the building was still vacant in 2015. In 2016, the building had been demolished.

former Big Boy [gone]
Wayne, MI


This former Big Boy restaurant has been vacant since at least 2005. I believe Beehive Family Dining was the last occupant. The interior has been gutted. The building was still vacant in 2014. By 2016, the building had been demolished.

Big Boy
page 2
Eateries Main Page