From fat boy to big boy

Surrounded by eager community members, city officials unveiled the newest addition to Bob's Big Boy on Tuesday, the giant big boy that will rotate on top of the new restaurant."This is a great day," said Mayor Mario Guerra. "It will be an even greater day when it opens up." As construction crews continue to rebuild what was once Johnie's Broiler, Guerra, along with City Council members Anne Bayer, Luis Marquez and David Gafin, helped Bob's Big Boy franchise owner Jim Lauder uncover the classic big boy mascot. Christos Smyrniotis, owner of the property, believes the unveiling was a symbolic rebirth of the 1958 diner, which was partially demolished in 2007. "As beautiful as it [Johnie's] was, I predict that phoenix is going to take place here," said Smyrniotis, relating the old diner to the mythical bird that dies in flames and is reborn from the ashes. However, as a result of some modifications to the diner, it will not return exactly the same way it left. Lauder said the 75,000-square-foot restaurant will have 185 seats, 75 more than Johnie's, as well as 185 new employees, some of which will serve as waiters, hostesses and carhop girls. "We couldn't get everything exactly the way it was in '58," said Lauder, whose family will operate the diner. "But we've tried to preserve all the original themes and reuse a lot of the original poles, stone and wood planks." Lauder also said the old fat boy character that once sat atop Johnie's Broiler will be placed in the back parking lot with a plaque that will describe the history of the mascot. "We're really happy to be here - we're looking forward to serving them [customers]," said Lauder, who has a suggestion for new customers. "The original double-decker cheeseburger - before McDonald's and the Big Mac, there was Big Boy's." Bob's Big Boy restaurant is expected to open next month.

********** Published: September 18, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 22