Remembering her big brother -- Big Boy's creator


Bob Wian, creator of Bob's Big Boy, the original double-deck

hamburger, has become a legend to the rest of us, but to Dotti Wian

Weis, her brother Bob was just an ordinary boy.

The Wians, Robert and Cora, and their three children, Dotti,

Katherine and Bob, left Philadelphia about 1924 and came to Glendale.

Wian opened Jewel City Furniture Store, invested in real estate and

became wealthy enough to build a large house on Royal Boulevard in

the just-opened Rossmoyne tract.

The current homeowners, David and Nancy Naylor, have a copy of a

permit issued in 1928 to contractor John L. Taylor for the

three-story house. Situated on a steep slope, the dwelling had a

double staircase leading to the front door. The first-floor entry had

a ballroom, a billiard room and a tiled staircase leading to the

second floor living, dining and kitchen areas. The third floor held a

suite for Robert and Cora, while the two sisters shared a bedroom.

Bob's room was on the same floor.

Weis said she was 8 and her brother was 14 when they moved in. "He

had a car, an old Model T that he worked on," she recalled.

The Wians lived on Royal for an idyllic year, Weis said, until the

stock market crash of 1929, when their father lost his business and

declared bankruptcy. He put the house on the market and the family

continued to live there until it sold. "My father was so honest that

he took the bankruptcy as an honest debt and sold everything to pay

people back. He was one of the few men that did that," Weis said.

Wian got a job as a traveling salesman for Maier Brewery. When

Weis was about 11, the house finally sold at a great loss for $11,000

and the family moved to Hollister Street. The three children attended

Doran Street Elementary School, Wilson Junior High and Glendale High

and took part-time jobs to help out.

Weis worked as a carhop at the Rite Spot on Colorado Street, where

her brother had also been employed. She was still in high school when

Bob, who had graduated in 1933, sold his 1932 De Soto convertible for

$300 and bought The Pantry, a "little tin shack with nine stools on

Colorado." It was next to a wine shop and a nursery. Weis was still

working at the Rite Spot when Bob opened his new place, but when the

Rite Spot applied for a liquor license, she had to leave, so she went

to work for her brother.

Eventually Bob acquired the surrounding land and expanded his

hamburger stand into the Bob's Big Boy franchise.

"My father helped him. My dad had a good head on his shoulders and

my brother was very ambitious," Weis said.

Next time: Weis recalls her Rossmoyne neighborhood.

* KATHERINE YAMADA'S column runs every other Saturday. To contact

her, call features editor Joyce Rudolph at 637-3241. For more

information on Glendale's history visit the Glendale Historical

Society's Web page at; call the reference

desk at the Central Library at 548-2027; or visit the Special

Collections Room at Central. It is open by appointment only.

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