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Feb 12, 2003 10:05 PM

Bobs Big Boy

  • m

Last night I had dinner with a friend at the Glendale Bob's Big Boy. We both had Big Boy Burgers with a entree salad, soda, a malt shake for me and a slice of pie for my friend. All for 23 bucks. Service was good and friendly, food was great. I don't get to Bobs often
(I live near the Burbank location but it's usually too crowded) but when I do I really seem to enjoy it. I always get the burger. Any one else like Bob's? Is anything else on the menu worth having? Anyone don't like Bob's and if so why?

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  1. Love that Big Boy Combo!

    9 Replies
    1. re: Curt

      Be sure to ask for the Bob's seasoning salt. They kept it on the counters until too many people were walking out with the bottles, but it's available on request. They also sell it at checkout.

      Great on the salads and on the burger (sort of like Lawry's).

      1. re: TE

        A little Bob's history for those who are interested. (It's kind of long, actually) In 1936, Bob Wian (who would go on to become mayor of Glendale) opened a tiny lunch counter at 900 E. Colorado in Glendale called "Bob's Pantry." This site would later become a full fledged drive-in and then a coffee shop, coming down in the late 1980's. A Blockbuster Video now occupies the site. Wian's friend, architect Wayne McAllister, known for his circular Los Angeles drive-in restaurants of the 1930's (Simon's, Roberts, later Hody's) designed a few of the earliest stores featuring drive-in service, including Toluca Lake in 1949. McAllister also did work for the Hot Shoppes chain of restaurants in the Northeast. In 1956, he became VP of Hot Shoppes/Marriott and in 1967, helped orchestrate the acquisition of Bob's (by now a national chain) by Marriott. By the early '90s after failed attempts by Marriott to change the formula (drop Big Boy, change name to Allie's) the quality had suffered and many stores closed. In 1992, the heirs of the original owner of Toluca Lake were considering closing and demolishing the restaurant for an office building when the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee, ( with the help of original architect McAllister, nominated this oldest remaining Bob's as a state landmark. After the landmark status was in place, the owners invested in a restoration, brought back car-hop service and remained open 24 hours. It is my understanding that they are now among the top performing Big Boy restaurants in the country. In recent years, Elias Brothers Big Boy (an early franchisee) in Michigan bought the name and rights and commissioned YOE! studios to remake the Big Boy character in a sort of of big-eye anime image. They produce comics and other merchandise, (Glendale and Toluca have the best selection) Other remaining Big Boy restaurants in Southern California include: Glenoaks in Glendale (circa 1970) The L.A. Mall Downtown (circa 1972) Eagle Rock Plaza (circa 1990) Calimesa (circa 1997) Diamond Bar (Circa 1975) and Wilshire near Highland (Circa 1970). An early '50s store building remains in Eagle Rock, but is now Panang Thai restaurant. For more info on historic Los Angeles visit


        1. re: Chris

          Thanks for the history Chris. More people have posted that dislike their burgers. I must be missing something. I think they beat just about any other comparable burger in a sit down restaurant (like Deny's or Norms).

          1. re: Chris

            I recently went looking for the one in Eagle Rock Plaza and it is gone.

            1. re: Chris

              The original location in Toluca Lake also has classic car meets there every Friday night. If not for the food, at least the people watching is amusing.

              1. re: Chris

                Bobs Big Boy had #1 Glendale on Colorado, #2in Burbank on San Fernando Road, #3 in Montrose, #4 on Maryland just above Colorado in Glendale not sure about #5, #6 the Toluca Lake Store on Riverside. I worked at the old #2 in 1974. I was employed there with one of the original car hops Betty Santoro. She is a neighbor of mine and a fine coworker. Pleasure to work with you Betty you taught me everything I know. :) I was borrowed many times over to the number 6 on Riverside Dr when they were short handed. In 1980 I returned to Bobs Big Boy as a waitress at a new location on Glenoaks near Sonora #158. I worked there for 5 years. I met my husband who at the time worked for ON TV and we bought our home had our first child then I decided to stay at home. :)

                1. re: Chris

                  Phoenix and Tucson had units Bob's Big Boy that were not franchised, Central Avenue was the place to be on Friday & Saturday nights when cruising Central , Denver had Azars Big Boys, Milwaukee had Marcs Big Boys, Michigan had Elias Brothers Big Boy's, the worst run franchise was JB's in Nevada and later took the Phoenix and Tucson Big Boys into the JB'S dumpsters........The Original Big Boys had a California Style dressing on the Burgers red relish no thousand island(by request) they also had a tomato and spice dressing which they no longer offer. I used park my classic 57 Caddy at the Friday night car meet when i lived in Toluca Lake, met Jay Leno there, and the owner have really stepped up and saved this place, Johnnies Fat Boy also had SoCal Locations and a Tucson unit, but I dont they survived although Im told they rebuilt a Johnnies in Orange County it appears on a new commercial for Sensa with a marching band in the parking lot.....these old Burger joints are great for movie location shoots

                2. re: TE

                  I love that seasoning until it got me thinking when i read the label and saw Monosodiumglutemate!!!! That stuff is horrible for ya. It will make me think twice about putting it on those amazing fries!

                  Still adore Bob's though. practically grew up there :)

                  1. re: stacyface

                    Love that Monosodiumglutemate! And, it is so good for you too! Wish we could top it off with BHT & BHA.

              2. Haven't eaten there since I was a kid. Mostly, I remember going to the branch in Century City while in high school in the 80s. Actually, until you posted, I didn't even realize there were still "Bob's Big Boys" around.

                When I was a kid, though, I loved their thick shakes and their "chili size". Best spaghetti with burger I've eaten ever :-) Lives in my memory as something good, although I'd fear trying it now as an adult. I'm afraid the reality now presented would not live up to the memory.

                3 Replies
                1. re: DanaB

                  After reading the previous posts, it seems like Bob's quality suffered somewhat after the original cpmpany licenced out the name. Isn't this what typically happens? A few folks mentioned the burgers were not very good. Hmmm I think compared to other inexpensive burgers I've had (Norms comes straight to mind) I find Bob's to be the tastiest. Maybe it's the red relish and mayo that gives it the distinct flavor I'm think of. I remember the comics too as sombody mentioned. Next time I go I'll have to check into it.

                  1. re: DanaB

                    I worked in Century City around that time and am trying to recall where Bob's was. I'm thinking it was on 'little' Santa Monica Blvd., somewhere close to Beverly Glen. Right or wrong??

                    When we moved to San Mateo we used to drive 20 minutes+, to Mountain View, so the kids could have their Big Boy burgers. We always thought it was one of the better 'chain'-type coffee shops.

                    1. re: Midlife

                      I used to frequent the Century City location as a teenager. It was in the newer expansion of the Mall, near the defunct Bullock's (now Macy's) dept store, facing the cross street between Avenue of the Stars and Century Park West, Constellation Blvd.

                      If you sat at the window wall you were directly across from the side of the (now Hyatt Regency) Century Plaza Hotel.


                      Looking at the Mall map now, it appears that space is vacant; IIRC it wasn't the space now occupied by BJ's Brewhouse. But I could be wrong -- it's been like 40 years.


                  2. Bob's Big Boy seems to have to separate lives. Out here on the left coast Bob's seems to have a loyal following and a pretty decent reputation for burgers and shakes. Back east, Bob's is pretty much synonymous with greasy spoon. Sort of a low class Ho Jo's. In fact, when I moved out here I thought it might even be a different restaurant. Has anybody else noticed this?

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Creamfinger

                      Here in Southern California the Big Boy name was owned and operated by the Bob's organization. They subsequently licensed the name to others in other parts of the country, but did not monitor the quality control as they should have. Elias Brothers, Frisch, JBs, among others come to mind. Yet the Burbank/Toluca Lake location and the Glendale one are two of the original 3 or 4 so the legend has it. The Van Nuys Blvd. one is now a car dealership.
                      The company is now trying to re-group under the leadership of people in Michigan and trying to open new locations. Do hope this time they get the need for consistent quality control right.

                      1. re: carter
                        Everybody Wang Chung Tonight

                        The one in Syracuse is (was) called TJ Big Boy. The menu was pretty identical to the one's I've seen here.

                        1. re: Everybody Wang Chung Tonight

                          In the South the chain is called Shoney's Big Boy, still very much in existence (although I think they've dropped "Big Boy" from their name), and popular with all the oldsters because they get Senior discounts and they can't taste anything anyway. Never had anything inedible there, but nothing enticing either - ate there only because I went with family, or because it was the site for some club meeting. Toluca Lake is the only Bob's I've been to since living in the Bay area 30-some years ago, and I'm happy to say it has real food!

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            Growing up in Texas in the 60s it was called Kip's, Home of the Big Boy.

                            1. re: mc michael

                              I grew up with it being Kips. I would love to find out if I can have the seasoning shipped to me. Just trying to have a little slice of my childhood here in Houston.

                            2. re: Will Owen

                              it's not Shoneys Big Boy, it's Frishe's Big Boy.. Shoney's is a whole different thing... and not as good as Bob's

                              1. re: Lightsuprooms

                                A few things.

                                For years, the Big Boy franchisor was the Marriott Corporation.

                                Shoney's owned the Big Boy franchise for most of the Deep South except for Oklahoma. N. Kentucky, and portions of Texas. They deopped the Big Boy designation to expand into neighboring territory.

                                And it is Frisch's Big Boy based in Cincinnati that you are thinking of.

                              2. re: Will Owen

                                There's a Bob's Big Boy on Hawthrone near PCH in the south bay, almost at the PV Peninsula. Not as good as I remembered it, but still worth a once in a while visit for a trip down memory lane. Their web site,, lists a location on Willow in Signal Hill, also.

                                Bob's Big Boy
                                24021 Hawthorne Blvd
                                Torrance, CA 90505
                                (310) 375-1800

                                1. re: CynD

                                  I went to this location a few months ago, and it's pretty good.

                                  1. re: CynD

                                    still cannot beat the # 6 on Riverside Dr in Toluca Lake 'original' historical

                                2. re: Everybody Wang Chung Tonight

                                  I was shocked to see that there are no Big Boys left in the Northeast.

                            3. I remember bob's fondly from my youth. great burgers and shakes. but I went to the one on wilshire and highland recently and was very disappointed. maybe burbank is better, but the burgers at this place were dry and flavorless. I won't go back there.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: elisha

                                Talking with the Burbank mgr., during my last visit, I think he explained the inconsistency.
                                It seems that Bobs is no longer a "chain".
                                The individuals owners are keeping up the tradition on there own.

                              2. Also haven't been for eons but based on your post it seems like it would be a fun return. Doesn't this Bob's have a fun car night in thier parking lot ? Is it Fri.? Sat. ? Once a month ? etc. ?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: l.g.i.

                                  Car night is Friday night (every friday, I believe) at the Toluca/Burbank location (Riverside Dr. just west of where it splits off into Alameda).

                                  1. re: EHunt

                                    Are you sure? According to their website, it's Saturday and Sunday.

                                    1. re: Chris O

                                      it is friday starts around 2 til at least 10