We Remember 1963: Big Boy Arrives in Pine River Plaza

An early March 1964 advertisement for the opening of the Alma Big Boy Restaurant in Pine River Plaza.

Contractor Harold Carter of Greenville shows new manager Jack Robbins of Alma around the Big Boy building site. It was June 1963.

The Big Boy himself greeted travelers for decades at the Pine River Plaza. Here he gets a cleaning and repair in July 1979.

On January 3, 1963, news came that the Pine River Plaza would soon have a new restaurant at the corners. This Big Boy Restaurant, one of 45 Elias Brothers restaurants in the United States, was owned by private operators who hoped to open for business that spring.

Harold Carter of Greenville built the Big Boy, which was constructed of brick and stone and had 3,500 square feet. It seated 120 people and had a drive-in with up to 60 Teletype phones for ordering. In addition to the drive-in, a banquet room inside held 40 people.

The Big Boy officially debuted on August 23, 1963, to coincide with the opening of Leonard’s Service Station. Newspapers also announced that the owners planned a golf driving range and miniature golf course east of the restaurant.

The hours of operation (6 am-1 am Sunday through Thursday, 6 am-3 am Friday-Saturday) gave customers a wide range of times to eat. By 1971, the Big Boy stayed open 24 hours a day.

Sometimes unusual things happened, such as when high winds blew the Big Boy off his perch during a wind and snow storm. In another instance, someone stole the Big Boy from his stand.

However, the Alma Big Boy in Pine River Township was a frequent stop to eat for decades for items like the Big Boy sandwich and Hot Fudge Ice Cream cake.

Copyright 2023 James M Goodspeed

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