For the history of the entire Big Boy chain, see Big Boy Restaurants. Bob’s Big Boy is a restaurant chain founded by Bob Wian in Southern California in 1936, originally named Bob’s Pantry. Wian created the Big Boy hamburger less than a year after opening his original location by slicing a bun into three slices and adding teenagers haircuts hamburger patties.
Bob Wian entered Glendale High School as the Great Depression started in 1929. His father’s furniture business bankrupt, Wian washed dishes in the school cafeteria to pay for lunch. But his father’s business failure and classmates’ doubts would lead Wian to success. West Coast chain similar to White Castle. And he was intent on proving his classmates wrong.
Now ambitious, Wian was promoted to fry cook then manager. Wian would later apply these to Big Boy. He would also adopt White Log’s pancake batter recipe. And at White Log he befriended fellow fry cook Bennie Washam, who would later sketch the original Big Boy mascot. Wanting wider experience, Wian quit and took a dishwashing job with his favorite Glendale restaurant, Lionel Sternberger’s Rite Spot. Again he was promoted to counterman and fry cook.