Back in 1936, after selling his DeSoto roadster, Bob Wian founded a restaurant chain named Bob’s Pantry initially, but anyone growing up in Southern California knows it as Bob’s Big Boy. In 1937, supposedly at the request of one of his customers, the Bob’s Big Boy Double-Decker hamburger was born.
According to Bob’s website, “Customers couldn’t get enough of Bob’s new creation. One fan, in particular, was a chubby six-year-old boy in droopy overalls. He would often help Bob sweep up in exchange for a free burger. In honor of his young friend, Wian decided to name the better burger the Big Boy. Another regular customer, a movie studio animator, sketched the now famous character on a napkin.”
Bob’s was THE place to go late on a Sunday afternoon with my parents and sit in the car as carhops served your food. “Big Boy, fries and a thin strawberry shake, please!” Going to Bob’s Big Boy as a kid was always cool, and, oh how I loved those Big Boy hamburgers. You couldn’t leave without picking up a Bob’s comic book featuring stories about their iconic mascot (photo below from internet shows what the comic book looked like).
Located at 4211 Riverside Drive in Burbank, this Bob’s Big Boy was built in 1949. The restaurant was designated a California Point of Historical Interest in 1993. It was designed by famed Los Angeles architect Wayne McAllister, who also created the original Lawry’s restaurant on La Cienega, and also the original Sands and Desert Inn hotels in La s Vegas. His style of architecture was called Googie, a form of modern architecture that was a subdivision of futurist architecture influenced by the Space and Atomic Ages. Googie Architecture originated in Southern California during the late 1940s, and it lasted until the mid-1960s.
According to Bob’s website, “The towering BOB’s sign is an integral part of the building design and its most prominent feature. The restaurant was honored in 1993, receiving the designation as a “STATE POINT OF HISTORICAL INTEREST” by the state of California.”
Some of the more famous customers at this Riverside Drive location included Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, and numerous others. At one point the carhop service was discontinued here, but in recent years it is back on weekends along with classic car shows (photo above from internet). There might be better hamburgers out there (maybe), but Bob’s Big Boy will always remain my favorite!
Bob’s Big Boy
4211 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505