BigBoy Graveyard

image Detroit Funk offers photographic evidence of the existence of a BigBoy Graveyard, which is kind of like the legendary Elephant Graveyard, except for BigBoys:

People all heard of it, but nobody had actually seen it with their own eyes. Well then my brotherinlaw Dave discovers the actual location - it was not an urban legend ! The BigBoy Graveyard actually existed...And its one of the saddest places in the DetroMetro area (if not the world) , its damn hard not to shed a tear there for all the fallen Boys.


Posted on Mon Apr 25, 2005


Why, WHY did it HAVE to be in the Detroit area. WHY can't we be famous for midget houses and underwater Gnomes? MUST it be a Big Boy graveyard?
Posted by Fay-Fay  on  Mon Apr 25, 2005  at  09:22 PM
Never heard of them until this
I wonder who owns the land they're on?
Posted by Sharruma  on  Mon Apr 25, 2005  at  09:25 PM
Hmm... odd.. Given that *most* Big Boys lived in the SoCal area. They'd have had to ship them out there.
Posted by Bobcat  on  Mon Apr 25, 2005  at  10:40 PM
I thought Detroit was famous for violence, urban decay, Devil's Night, and the bumper sticker "Get Your White Ass Out of Detroit". 😊

*eye twitches* A big boy graveyard. What an excellent place to lose one's mind. Just visualizing the place sort of makes me feel....screamy.

The Big Boy graveyard would be a great place for an action movie's climactic battle scene. Imagine 'The Crow' if the ending had been in the Big Boy Graveyard instead of that musty old cathedral...
Posted by Barghest  on  Mon Apr 25, 2005  at  10:59 PM
Actually, after further study of the pictures, it seems that what we really have here is a place somewhere in Detroit where between three and five Big Boy signs are rusting away.

I'm really not sure that an overgrown lot in the back of some industrial section with three Big Boys counts as THE Big Boy Graveyard. My own arbitrary standard for the official status would be at least twenty Big Boys.

That would be sort of like finding a spot in Africa with two elephant skeletons, and declaring it to be The Elephant Graveyard.
Posted by Barghest  on  Mon Apr 25, 2005  at  11:05 PM
...Yeah, I'd have to say that 3 or 4 Big Boys doesn't qualify as a "graveyard". It doesn't even qualify as a mass grave. You'd have to have lots of bodies, for that.

On another note...except for the scenes from Austin Power's, I'm not really familiar with what a Big Boy ACTUALLY is, or does.
Posted by Maegan  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  07:17 AM
Big Boy is the symbol of Big Boy

I've ever only seen one in real life and it didn't last long before closing.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  07:43 AM
So...he's sort of like the original Ronald McDonald. Only, not as popular, b/c I've never heard of it. My hearing of something wouldn't necessarily make it popular...but if it were REALLY popular (or good, or...whatever, even *I* would have heard of it.
Posted by Maegan  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  08:49 AM
Big Boy was evidentally a regional restaurant, not national like McDonalds. They are very well known and popular within their locales, kinda like Roy Rogers and White Castle.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  09:01 AM
Has any McDonald's ever closed because of lack of sales? I know that several Mickey's have closed because mass murders were committed on the site, but I honestly see McD's as the true barometer of the American Economy. If ONE Mickey's closes because of bad business, then the whole shebang goes down the dumper. That's my theory, write it down
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  09:16 AM
Several Mickey's have closed because mass murders were committed on the site?
Posted by Boo  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  09:35 AM
Yes, mass murder at Mickey's. Like:;jsessionid=17jjqqd8urnpj?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=James+Oliver+Huberty&gwp=8&curtab=2222_1&sbid=lc01a
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  09:58 AM
Well, damn... that URL is dead. Nevermind. Hmmm... I'm hungry. Where's my pistol
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  10:00 AM
Yes, Mass Mickey's Murder. Try this URL: Looks like 21 dead, Millions served
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  10:04 AM
I actually wrote a song years ago, covering the wacky world of Ronald M. and Entropic Sprirals. I called it: "AmeriCow Woman". Don't steal that title or I'll moo you
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  10:07 AM
I'd say that at bes, we have the Detroit Big Boy graveyard. It's not as cool as the Las vegas Neon Sign Graveyard:
I'd like to see a SoCal Big Boy graveyard. I'd really like to see all the SoCal Big Boys lined up, hands upraised in their fascist salute of ground round, being reviewed by their evil leader. . . Either Ronald himself or that creepy Burger King from the "Wake up with the King" ads.

. . . on seocnd thought, Eeeewwww. That King guy is creepy.
Posted by DaveG  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  01:34 PM
Back when I was a kid in the 1960's, "Bob's Big Boy" restaurants were everywhere in So Cal. Over they years they just seemd to drop out of favor with the public, and I see by their web page that there are only 8 let in the whole state.

The Big Boy Hambrger was the inspiration for McDonalds Big Mac (at least that was the popular belief among my circle of friends).

I remember one time someone defaced the big boy statue at our neighborhood by drawing on it with permanent marker. They gave him lipstick, eye liner and rouge, he look like a fat Michael Jackson. To this day I laugh thinking of that!
Posted by Wally  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  03:53 PM
We still have this restaurant in Anderson, Indiana. Very good food btw. Not only do they have selections like the classic double-decker and fries but also regular food such as dinner entrees and such. This is what makes it one of our favorite restaurants is that everyone in the family can find something there that they want or like. The kids always get their burgers where as we always eat their manhattan's... hope it never closes.
Posted by Mark-N-Isa  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  04:23 PM
Ours are called "Frisch's Big Boy" though as opposed to the "Bob's Big Boy" or just plain "Big Boy"... so what the deal is with that I don't know. I did notice that on the locations of Chars link Indiana isn't even an available choice. Despite this it's a fact... we eat at this restaurant at least once a month! Ask my bank account! 😉
Posted by Mark-N-Isa  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  04:27 PM
I remember when we had a Big Boy's in San Diego. That was probably 15 years ago. It was my favorite resteraunt when I was a little kid.
Posted by Razela  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  06:17 PM
I've never seen a Big Boy in real life. Honestly till a few years ago I just thought it was one of those weird running things in movies. :red:
Posted by Winona  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  06:45 PM
Does anyone know if the Bob's Big Boy still exists right off I95 in Fredericksburg, VA? Had some nice meals with my aunt & uncle there, in the '70-'80's. But they've passed, and I haven't been there, since. By the way, there's a kick-ass gas pump graveyard near Anniston, AL. They've got at least 100,000 dead gas pumps out in a junkyard. I know some people go there for parts or new acquisitions to their collections. What do you turn them into, slot machines or juke boxes?
Posted by stork  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  07:42 PM
The original restaraunts we opened by Bob Wian in Glendale, California under the name of "Bob's Big boy" At some time in the late 60's or early 70's the Wian family sold. Perhaps that is when the other names came along...
Posted by Wally  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  08:50 PM
Yeah, I think the franchises weresold around and named after the families that bought them.. In this area, we also had the Leatherby's chain of ice cream parlors.. *really* good stuff, made on site. Then they sold off, so it'd get named after the owner... We had Marvelli's, then Phipp's.

As regards the gaspumps, some folks collect old gas pumps, oddly enough. There's a collector's market, though the pumps there are probably rusted beyond any use mroe than parts.. In any case, what looks more authentic than a period gas station facade for taking pictures of vintage cars?
Posted by Bobcat  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  09:33 PM
As a old car guy I've been looking for the right gas pump at the right price for many years. The ones from the 40's and 50's can be VERY expensive. I've never found one that is cheap enough to fall below my threshold of pain 😊

Here is a picture of one guy's collection that I saw last weekend:

Posted by Wally  on  Wed Apr 27, 2005  at  08:59 AM
The Big Boy chain was more or less national, but it had different names in different regions. I've seen Shoney's Big Boy, Bob's Big Boy, and several others. Here in Dallas, it was called Kip's Big Boy (I have no idea who Kip was). The food was good and the decor had a certain 50s-60s modernist funk to it. My father had a spiritual relationship with Kip's Hot Fudge Sundaes. The burgers had a "secret sauce" which was suspiciously similar to Thousand Island salad dressing.
Every month, there was a new "Adventures of the Big Boy comic book, given away free at the restaurants. This detailed the doings of Big Boy, his friend Dolly (who wore skirts so short she probably would have been arrested if she hadn't been a comic book character), and their dog (was the dog named Nugget?).
You can see that many of MacDonalds' motifs were indeed lifted from the Big Boy chain.
One of the favorite teachers at my high school was nicknamed "Big Boy," because he looked exactly the Big Boy would have looked if BB lost about 100 pounds and if BB were not made of plastic.
For some reason, though, Big Boy began to decline about 15-20 years ago. All the ones in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have closed, I think. That's why the Big Boy graveyard is so poignant.
Posted by Big Gary C in Dallas  on  Wed Apr 27, 2005  at  09:55 AM
Who is this blasphemer who suggests that Detroit must have imported Big Boys from So. Cal to populate our Big Boy graveyard? Michigan still has dozens of Elias Brother's Big Boy Restaurants:

We have plenty of retired local "Boys" without any handouts from the West Coast. Honestly, I've always suspected that California was piling up their used Boys just off the beach to shore up the state's receeding coastline. Well, when your great state breaks off at the Nevada border and starts floating out to sea (much like I've seen in cartoons) don't come crying to Michigan begging for more Boys to save your drifting homeland. You had your chance.

Elias Brothers Uber Alles!

Incedentally, one of the coolest uses I've seen for a Big Boy was the modifications to the one in front of the Grand Blanc restaurant in 1997. The Redwings were about to win their first Stanley Cup in fifty-odd years and the local high schoolers dressed Big Boy in a huge Wings jersey. On the night of the championship they constructed a Stanley Cup out of cardboard and tinfoil and fastened it to the top of his Double Decker Burger. It was an inspiring sight.
Posted by Miss-Black  on  Wed Apr 27, 2005  at  10:14 AM
When I read Bobcat's last post I fell off my chair after misreading the restaurant as: LeatherBoys Chain..."
Posted by Chadds Ford Prefect  on  Wed Apr 27, 2005  at  12:25 PM
" I know that several Mickey's have closed because mass murders were committed on the site,..."
I can't believe a McDonald's would close just because some people got shot. There must have been at least a dozen murders over the years at the McD's next to the Federal Building on Commerce Street in downtown Dallas, and last time I went by there, it was still open.
Posted by Big Gary C in Dallas  on  Wed Apr 27, 2005  at  05:01 PM
I can remember seeing a Big Boy in the back yard of someone who lived on the River off 56th Steet on the South side of the river. It's no longer there but I used to laugh and laugh when I was a kid and saw it. ANyone know what ever happened to the Bell's at Taco Bell?
Posted by Melody  on  Thu Mar 16, 2006  at  02:25 PM
Frisch's is a company based here in Cincinnati that owns Big Boy's in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.
Posted by Big Don  on  Thu Apr 06, 2006  at  07:14 AM
There used to be a Big Boy in Decatur Illinois, and it was Top's Big Boy until Frisch's bought it.
I don't remember ever eating there...Big Boy kinda freaked me out....
Posted by MyssiD  on  Thu Apr 06, 2006  at  10:51 AM
If the Big boy graveyard was indeed in Detroit, it's likely because Elias Brothers (of Detroit) bought all franchising rights when Marriott sold most of the Big Boy chain to the Restaurant Enterprises Group (then parent of Carrows and Coco's) back in the 90's.
Bob's was the original and Elias brothers was the first franchise.
Posted by Ross  on  Mon Aug 14, 2006  at  12:19 AM
If anyone knows the locale of the graveyard, i need to get there. I need an original Shoney's Big Boy (larger than the current Bob's bigboy).
Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Posted by Emily  on  Sat Aug 26, 2006  at  07:15 AM
wow... im confused.. i looked up random murders, and it came to this. it wont let me use the hyberlink. was it like a mass murder graveyard?? im really confused.
Posted by shannon  on  Thu May 24, 2007  at  07:24 PM
just received today a large 'big boy" for restoration. a friend of mine had it setting in his pasture and ask that i repaint, etc.

Big Boy is in great shape EXCEPT the wrist, platter and hamburger have been cut off WHY--WHO KNOWS.
the platter was cut off evenly so all i need is a placement arm, tray and hamburger. i could bondo this back on and the Big Boy would be in great shape
stands about 5 feet and weighs about 75 to 100 #

where is this graveyard and are parts available? anyone know where i can get the right arm?


reid piper
Posted by REID PIPER  on  Mon Jul 02, 2007  at  01:49 PM
Where in Detroit is the Big Boy Graveyard? I am currently restoring an original 7ft statue and am missing the arm from just above the elbow on up (sadly, this has been missing for 23 years). Would love to salvage the part for authenticity.
Any help is greatly appreciated.

J. Langford
Posted by Jonathan Langford  on  Mon Jul 16, 2007  at  11:04 PM
There are actually TWO Big Boy Graveyards in Michigan (we have a lot of Big Boys):

We had a McDonald's go out of business in Traverse City. They razed the site in a single day.
Posted by farlane  on  Mon Jul 30, 2007  at  06:39 AM
Fred Bell owned Kip's in the Dallas area. Lemmon & Inwood, Northpark Mall, Northwest Hwy & Hillcrest, Northwest Hwy & Marsh Ln. Forest Ln & Marsh Ln., Oak Cliff (Zang & I-35E). He also owned Fred's BBQ at Forest & Marsh Ln
Posted by ed  on  Tue Jan 13, 2009  at  01:40 PM
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