GREENVILLE — Big Boy may still be a little on the chubby side, but in Greenville, at least, the burger-toting trademark of this venerable restaurant recently underwent a major makeover. The Greenville Big Boy, located at 1500 W. Washington St., is one of a handful of franchises in the nationwide chain to receive major renovations.
According to Big Boy assistant manager Briana Foley, the restaurant took part in a contest to be among a select group to undergo the renovations.
“This was a company wide contest to see who was going to be good enough to take part in this pilot program,” Foley said. “We were good enough. We are setting a higher standard for Big Boy.”
Among the changes are a greatly expanded menu, as well as a completely revamped buffet containing several previously unavailable choices and additional meat items.
“We also have new additions to the salad bar and menu,” Foley said. “We now have foot-long hot dogs, sweet-potato fries and a birthday toy wagon for kids 13 and under. We come out and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and bring the kids a free Oreo cookie sundae. We make a big deal out of birthdays.”
In addition to the toy wagon, other birthday surprises include hats for the kids designed to resemble Big Boy’s iconic, swooping haircut; for girls a hat resembling Big Boy’s female mascot, Dolly, is available.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about all these changes is that they took place virtually overnight. Big Boy Senior Vice President of Marketing David Crawford explained that the makeover is part of an intensive, 12-hour effort and represents a lot of careful planning.
“Overnight we come in and change the decor, the menu and all sorts of things,” Crawford said. “Basically, you come in one day and it’s a regular Big Boy and the next night everything has changed. It’s been working very well for us.”
To date, 10 Big Boys statewide have received similar makeovers and, according to Crawford, the company is seeing positive returns on what is a very large investment.
“It’s expensive,” Crawford said. “It’s a six-figure investment. We change everything from the buffet to the china, cups, glasses, everything. We’ve found that a lot of people may not notice if you change just one or two things, but when you make a whole bunch of improvements and present it to them as part of a larger package, people take notice.”
The cosmetic changes are just a part of the overall “package” of changes, however. Several specials have been added to the menu and now two children can eat free for each adult purchasing a meal.
“In this economy, that can be a big thing for a lot of folks,” Crawford said.
Another change is that the restaurant hired an additional 20-plus employees to help ensure fast service, clean surroundings and a pleasant overall dining experience.