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Feb 1, 2010 02:51 PM

Bob's Big Boy - in PASADENA???!!!

I was just out taking a drive during my lunch and was stopped at the corner of Lake and Del Mar. My eyes wandered over a red sign where Baja Fresh is... er, was. Now it is a Bob's Big Boy. The red banner over the patio says "Now Open". Looked to me like not too many people know about it, since it was empty, but I am sure it will be packed like the others in no time. Hope they have my chili spaghetti! ;-)

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  1. i'd be very interested in some reports. Bob's Big Boy's heyday was in the 50's and 60's, and I have great memories of their burgers and that super thick shake at the location on Van Nuys Boulevard. Then they seemed to go in to decline in the 80's and 90's and we were really turned off by how bad it had got when we tried a Big Boy in Diamond Bar about ten years ago.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ChinoWayne

      Thinking the same thing, why are they making a comeback?
      Went to the flagship BBB in Toluca Lake a few months ago and was somewhat disappointed. Maybe it's the same old stuff and I outgrew it?

      1. re: ChinoWayne

        Hey ChinoWayne

        The Van Nuys location was my BBB too. It was a real Sunday treat in the 60's to go and have car hop service. I am trying to arrange a departmental lunch to check out the new one here in Pasadena. Ireally think they're trying to bring back the BBB of its heyday.

        1. re: SeaCook

          Mine, too! We went there for Van Nuys Blvd's. cruise night every week (I believe it was on Wednesdays) in the mid-70s. It was a weekly family outing. Between BBB and Papa John's (which used to be on the SW corner of Victory and Hazeltine) I found my love of all things chili!

      2. My wife, stepdaughter and I ate there on opening night (01/22). It was rather busy, which was nice to see. Very young and eager-to-please (perhaps a bit too much) waitstaff, but I can't fault them for that. Food was exactly what you'd expect. Wifey had a Big Boy combo, which lived up to its billing. I had Pappy Parker's Fried Chicken. I was very pleased with it. Nice and crispy; and not the least bit greasy. I don't remember needing a second napkin. Getting the timing right on chicken is something of an art, so I was impressed that they had it right on opening night. Served with good mashed potatoes (they tasted real to me) with a savory gravy. Steamed veggies (previously frozen - forgettable but acceptable) completed the plate. Came with a salad (blue cheese dressing, thanks). Stepdaughter had a 1/3 lb. cheeseburger with fries, and devoured the whole thing. We shared the classic fudge brownie sundae for dessert.

        I didn't order a shake, but noted that they do include the metal tumbler. Now, help me out here people from the 70s and 80s (and before, I guess). Didn't the Bob's shakes used to me super super thick, basically like soft serve ice cream? I swear that's what I remember. But they don't do them that way at any of the Bob's I've been to in the last several years (Toluca Lake, Diamond Bar and now Pasadena).

        The Pasadena outpost is owned by the same folks as the Toluca Lake one. On opening night, two gentlemen (I believe the owners) were on hand, inquiring from departing guests about their dining experience (and asking for honest opinions; they really seemed interested in their guests). All in all, a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Nothing fancy; just old fashioned food at a reasonable price.

        Other notes: the Big Boy burger was constructed the classic way, and was topped with Bob's red hamburger relish which is highly sought after by some (I like it). It obviously lacks the Wayne McAllister architecture, atmosphere and history of Toluca Lake, but it's a pleasant enough space with several booths, a few free-standing tables, a small counter, and walls adorned with old photos of Pasadena.

        It's not fine dining. It's not the best burger in the neighborhood; Pie 'n' Burger and The Counter are better in that respect. It's been years since I went to Hamburger Hamlet so I'm not even sure how it compares to that. But it fills a niche. There's breakfast in a part of Pasadena that really needs a coffee shop alternative to P'n'B (which is cheaper, and takes credit cards) so I will return to try breakfast soon. I'd definitely return for the fried chicken. Oh, and I had a slice of apple pie, too. It had a nice buttery crust and a pleasant cinnamony glaze on the apples.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Jack Flash

          Thanks for the review. What are the prices like? The website only has a breakfast menu and there are no prices listed. How much is one of those combos that used to be 95 cents when my friends and I would hang out at the one on La Cienega in L.A. in high school?

          1. re: monkuboy

            Total for the three of us, including tax & tip, was $46.xx. We had: one Big Boy Combo, one 1/3-lb cheeseburger, one Pappy Parker Fried Chicken dinner, two cherry Pepsis, one fudge brownie sundae, and one slice of apple pie (not ala mode).

            Menu on the site does include prices, to wit:


            1. re: Jack Flash

              I just noticed they have Chicken Fried Steak for breakfast. Anyone had it and can you tell me if it is any good? TIA!

              1. re: WildSwede

                Where did you see that? It was on their dinner menu but I didn't see it on the breakfast menu at all...and believe me, I was LOOKING!!

                1. re: Will Owen

                  I saw it online on their menu. You know me! ;-)
                  However, my friend went on the website and wanted us to bring her back a Big 'Shroom Burger but our waitress did not know what that was, so the menu on the website and their actual menu vary. Of course, I totally forgot to check to see if they had the CFS on their menu when I was there.
                  We went yesterday for lunch. Would never know that it used to house a Baja Fresh!
                  I had my chili spaghetti which came with a dinner salad (Thousand, please) and garlic toast. And a Vanilla Coke (they only serve Pepsi products). I asked for very well-done grilled onions, but they only came barely-cooked. Oh well, But it was very good. Friend had the veggie burger which she gobbled up and loved and we shared the Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake. YUM!
                  We were both dismayed to see that jerk of a waiter that used to be at Green Street working at Bob's as a manager. Obviously they did not check any references on him. He was just as rude as ever. Too bad.
                  But other than that, I am very pleased that they are back in Pasadena. They were jumping when we got there around 1:30.

                  1. re: Will Owen


                    I just saw it on an e-mail I received with a $5.00 off breakfast menu coupon. If you get online to the Pasadena restaurant site you can sign up for a newsletter and get all sorts of goodies.

                  2. re: WildSwede

                    Can't imagine their CFS is anything but a frozen ground CFS patty.

              2. re: Jack Flash

                You can still get thick shakes, just ask them to make them extra thick. I then ask them to bring it with my meal, so I don't drink it all up before. Haven't been to the new one, but go to the one in Toluca Lake and Torrance.

                1. re: Jack Flash

                  I grew up eating at BBB - mostly Canoga Park branch on Sherman Way - and we always went there on report card night (late 60's, early 70's). I'm not sure that the old shakes even had milk in them. It seemed that they just put the soft serve straight into the metal goblet. I think even if you ask for a shake "thick" these days, it's not the same as what you would get back in the day. The onion rings used to be way better too, totally not worth the calories anymore. But I still love BBB, especially the Big Boy burger, and we eat at the Toluca Lake branch a few times a year.

                2. In the past few years Bob's Big Boy has opened in West Covina, Orange, and now Pasadena. Sadly the Glendale location has closed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: reality check

                    Don't forget the Sun Valley and Northridge locations that have opened in the last year...

                  2. Growing up, a big (and I mean BIG) treat for me was going to Bob's Big Boy for a Bob's Big Boy Classic Combo and a slice of their cheesecake topped with strawberries and completely artificial and gooey strawberry sauce.

                    Amazingly, I never found room for that little petri dish of salad topped with Thousand Island dressing that came with the combo ...

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      What was the point of that salad anyway? To convince Mom that there was something good for you on the plate?

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Did you ever ask to hold the salad? Did that yield more fries?

                        2. re: mc michael

                          Bob's Big Boy had their own version of thousand island dressing. I think it was a way of marketing their salad dressing. Plus BBB predates McDonalds and was more of a diner/coffee shop and not fast food.

                          Boy those were the days. And I loved that chocolate shake.

                          1. re: Ogawak

                            1000 island dressing is my favorite salad dressing, as well as my favorite hambuger AND hot dog condiment. Bob's thousand island is my gold standard for that flavor, and Bob's makes a pretty reasonable blue cheese dressing available at most local Costco locations.

                      1. On a historical note, Bob Wian's first hamburger restaurant, not yet called Big Boy, was on Colorado in Pasadena, so in a way it's a return home.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: condiment

                          While you are correct about the 1st restaurant being on Colorado Blvd., It was in Glendale, not Pasadena. the year was 1937 and it was called Bob's Pantry.
                          I loved BBB from years past but feel the taste, quality, and size have all diminished over the years.

                          1. re: sdv231

                            Here's a bit of history
                            My memory is of the old 3130 East Colorado location, somewhat east of the city college.

                            This new location will probably draw a lot techies, even more so than the old.

                            1. re: paulj

                              yes 3130 Colorado was the last Pasadena branch (before this new one )....although not the 1st

                              1. re: paulj

                                well I know the cashiers at the Cal Tech Credit Union are excited!

                              2. re: sdv231

                                Marian Cunningham, who was a friend of his in high school, used to talk about a Pasadena restaurant - Winans may have been all of 19 when he opened it.

                                1. re: sdv231

                                  Glendale/Pasadena? Split the difference and you get the Eagle Rock location, which was our hang in high school back when. My dad always ribbed me about Bob's getting busted for having horsemeat in their burgers, but that was way back.