The Bob's story starts in 1937 in Glendale with an ambitious
lunch-stand operator named Bob Wain who came up with the double-deck
hambur- ger, but was at a loss for names, referring to it as "the
As legend has it, it wasn't until Richard Woodruff, a plump
6-year-old boy who performed small tasks around the stand in exchange
for the sandwich, provided Wain his much-needed inspiration.
"Momentarily forgetting his name, Bob called out to him, 'Hey, big
boy,' and that is how the name started," Hansen said. "He then had a
cartoonist draw him as the original Big Boy."
The Big Boy, that newly christened double-deck hamburger, was the
impetus that built the coffee shop empire called Big Boy Restaurants
of America, according to the book. It tells the rise of the company
to what Hansen considers its fall, when Wain sold it to the Marriott
Corp. in 1967.
"Bob was a superstar, I mean he was as big as Clark Gable," he
said. "He was the most respected food-service operator in the country
and when he left, Big Boy Restaurants was the fourth-largest
food-service business in the country."
Retired and living in Camarillo, Hansen began his Bob's Big Boy
tenure as a dishwasher in 1946 at the now-closed San Fernando
Boulevard location. He worked there on-and-off until 1959, when he
became vice president of marketing and a board member of the Big Boy
Franchises, Inc. for nine years.
A friend of Wain, Hansen began the book by interviewing him in
After 32 years, he published it five weeks ago and has already
sold about 600 copies to former employees and customers.
"I wanted to do it as a history book with quotes from Bob and to
have a few sassy comments about McDonalds and the marginal quality
[of replications of the double-deck hamburger]," he said.