It's been a while since I've checked in on the Big Boy and I was wondering how he's been doing.

It seems like over the last several decades the Big Boy restaurants that once populated The Mitten have slowly disappeared. Take Plainwell, Wayland, and most recently Hartland, Michigan, for example.

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That being said, when I started researching just how many Big Boy restaurants remain open in Michigan I was surprised to learn that 83% of all Big Boys are actually located right here!


Big Boy's Beginnings

At first I thought maybe Big Boy was actually founded here in Michigan, but it turns out that is not the case. In fact, Big Boy got his start on the west coast in sunny California!

Founder Bob Wian purchased his first roadside food stand in 1936 in Glendale, CA and called it "Bob's Pantry." One night a customer asked Bob for a something a little different and that's how Bob got the idea to create the first double-decker cheeseburger.

Customers came from all over California to try Bob's double-decker, including a movie studio animator who sketched the now-famous Big Boy mascot on a napkin. Thus, Bob's "Big Boy" was born!

Big Boy Moves to the Mitten

Brothers John, Louis, and Fred Elias cemented the Big Boy's history in Michigan when they opened the restaurant's first franchise in Hazel Park, MI in 1952. By 1964 the Elias brothers operated over 100 stores in the Michigan-Ohio area and in 1987 they purchased the chain outright and eventually moved the company's headquarters to Warren, MI.

Today Big Boy is still Michigan-owned, belonging to a group of investors who renamed the company the Big Boy Restaurant Group. So that explains why there are so many Big Boys in Michigan!

According to data company ScrapeHero today there are 60 remaining Big Boy restaurants in the U.S. across 6 states and 59 cities-- 50 of which are located in Michigan.

The nearest restaurant to those who reside in Southwest Michigan can be found in Battle Creek.

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