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Bob's Big Boy restaurant in August, 2008

Bob's Big Boy is a restaurant chain started in Southern California by Bob Wyan. It is now part of Big Boy, an owner of several chain restaurants.

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Oldest remaining restaurant

The Bob's Big Boy Restaurant located at 4211 Riverside Drive[1] in Burbank, California is the oldest remaining Bob's Big Boy in the United States.[2] Built in 1949 by local residents Scott MacDonald and Ward Albert, it was designed by noted Los Angeles architect Wayne McAllister, "incorporating the 1940s transitional design of streamline moderne style, while anticipating the freeform 50s coffee shop architecture. The towering Bob's sign is an integral part of the building design and its most prominent feature."[2] The building is said to have "made McAllister's reputation", and he is credited with creating the restaurant's circular drive-through design.[3]

The restaurant was designated a California Point of Historical Interest in 1993.[2] McAllister worked to preserve the structure as a historic landmark. McAllister was the architect for the original Lawry's restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills and the original Sands and Desert Inn casinos in Las Vegas. He designed more than 40 coffee shops in the Los Angeles area in the late 1940s, and gave each an individual look.

The Bob's Big Boy building represents a distinct period in the region's architectural history, often referred to as Googie. Creative coffee shop designs started in Los Angeles because of the popularity of automobiles, and then spread across the nation. The building features curving windows and oversized roof overhangs with 1950s "free-form" style of cantilevered roofs and tall display signs.

The Riverside Drive Bob's Big Boy was designed as a drive-in, in which carhops brought food to the cars, and now has a drive-thru window.

The MacDonald family acquired the restaurant in 1993, rehabilitating the tower sign, adding a patio and remodeling the dining room.[2] Carhop service was reintroduced on weekends and a weekly classic car show is hosted in the parking lot.[2]

Bob Hope, along with movie stars like Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Jonathan Winters, Dana Andrews, Alexis Smith and Craig Stevens, were once regulars at the restaurant. Bob Hope would use the Burbank drive-in often because it afforded him the privacy he desired.

The Burbank location has a table in the back where The Beatles sat. For many years a plaque commemorated this, but according to store employees, it was stolen and replaced many times, and is currently not in place.[citation needed]

Other notable locations

  • The first Phoenix, Arizona, Bob's Big Boy (est. 1954), was a notable exception to the traditional architecture in California. The restaurant was located at Central Avenue and Thomas Road. It quickly put two other nearby drive-in restaurants out of business. The building was very modern with horizontal overhanging roof lines and native stone at the entrance. Above was a large mural that resembled a Hopi sand painting of Kachinas, and a covered area to the east of the building for car hop service.
  • Several Bob's Big Boy locations were designed by Armet & Davis, an architectural firm known for their contributions Googie architecture.
  • Bob's Big Boy Broiler in Downey is a Historical Landmark and good example of Googie architecture. Once Johnie's Broiler, this Bob's features original floor plans, car hops, a drive-thru and the famous neon signage from its early days.

References

External links

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