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Is Bob's Big Boy the Comeback King?

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For a long time it seemed like Bob's Big Boy was going, going, and almost gone. But the end of an era has been halted, thanks to the new owner of the site of the old Johnie's Broiler in Downey, who is set to build a new Big Boy based on old designs.

The LA Times reports that "the new owner plans to restore the original 1958 plans" which include a car-hop. "The builders of the new location are seeking inspiration in the landmark Toluca Lake Bob's, which is marked by colorful neon lighting and vintage mid-century modern architecture." That's not to mention the classic diner fare of the chain, known for its double-decker "Big Boy" burger (named, according to legend, for a jolly round-faced young customer of the original restaurant, Bob's Pantry)--also good when you need to eat in the wee hours of the night.

But possibly more iconic than the burgers or the hot fudge cake are the fiberglass statues of a burger-hoisting kid in overalls that adorns each restaurant. As car culture and the car-hop service drew in teenagers in droves in the restaurant's heyday, so did the Big Boy statues draw in teens (and others of all ages)--some who snatched the statues as trophies. You'd better bet that there will be a Big Boy in front of the new Downey location, which could open in early 2009. In fact, things are looking up for the Boy; the chain is expanding, "with about 40 to 50 [new locations] scheduled to open in the next few years." But all things Googie aren't good, including in Downey. Another Googie-designed eatery of the same era, The Nordic Fox, also in Downey, will close its doors at the end of this month. Can the Big Boy prove he's a comeback king? We'll see...

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Photo by James Herman via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr