At Lunch Time

"You can find your way across America using burger joints the way a
                        navigator uses stars." - Charles Kuralt


By Glen Creno
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 22, 2002

Bob's Big Boy, the burger joint that was a Valley hangout for a couple of
decades, is cooking up a comeback.

A new franchisee hopes to open 10 Arizona restaurants in the next seven
years. Sites haven't been picked, but franchisee Grant Goodman said the
Valley and Tucson are first in line to get the restaurants that specialize
in double-decker burgers, onion rings and thick shakes.

The chain was founded by Bob Wian in California in 1936 and moved into
Phoenix in 1955, opening several spots during its two-decade run. Wian made
deals with franchisees across the country who stuck their own names on the
restaurants but the Arizona outlets were called Bob's Big Boy, or just

All of the restaurants sport the chubby-kid logo that became a local icon
and a kitschy cultural reference that has popped up in Austin Powers
movies. Big Boy returned to the Valley in 1999, opening restaurants in Mesa
and Guadalupe that flopped in less than a year as franchiser Elias Brothers
faced bankruptcy.

Media mogul Robert Liggett Jr. bought Big Boy's trademark and franchise
rights for $24.8 million in cash in 2000. Goodman has an exclusive
franchisee deal for new Big Boys in Arizona, though another franchisee runs
an existing restaurant in Lake Havasu.

He also has the rights to build smaller Big Boys for universities,
entertainment venues and sports stadiums.

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