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Story

Dave Frisch

The ninth of ten children, Dave Frisch followed in the footsteps of his father Samuel Frisch, who in 1905 opened the Frisch Café in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1915, Samuel opened Frisch’s Stag Lunch in Norwood, a suburb of Cincinnati. Dave withdrew from school as a teenager to work full-time in his father’s restaurant. He eventually returned to high school, but before he graduated, his father passed away, leaving Dave and his brothers to run the restaurant.

In the 1930s, Dave went out on his own, and by 1939, he opened the Mainliner restaurant; Cincinnati’s first year-round drive-in named after the first tri-motor passenger airplane. Today, some 78 years later, a replica of the airplane still adorns the restaurant’s sign.

Then in 1946, at an industry convention in California, Dave met Bob Wian who introduced him to a double-decker hamburger called the “Big Boy.” Dave secured permission to adopt the concept but personalized the Big Boy by dressing it with a specially formulated tartar sauce unique to Frisch’s. The Big Boy became an instant hit at Frisch’s first restaurant in Cincinnati – a “drive-in” with room for eight customers inside and sixty cars outside.

Dave Frisch Giving Back

A post-war generation flocked to the restaurant in cars, as eager to gather as they were to eat. Dave Frisch planned for growth by expanding the company’s footprint and its commissary operations, which allowed Frisch’s to operate as an affordable dining option for generations of families.

Over the next three decades the Big Boy concept grew steadily throughout the Midwest and the South. Dave Frisch and his management team continued to innovate and lead the industry in areas of menu innovation, personnel development and advertising. By 1960, the company issued stock to fuel continued growth in ancillary service sectors such as hotels.

With his striped overalls and reddish-blond hair, the Big Boy character, also known as the East Coast Big Boy, remains a constant at Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants. To this day, the friendly-faced statue continues to greet guests at the front entrance of Frisch’s with a huge smile while holding a delicious Big Boy double-decker hamburger.

Under Dave Frisch’s leadership, the company grew to 200 units; all the while staying true to Dave’s vision of offering the best quality food in a clean, pleasant atmosphere, served by friendly, efficient personnel while remaining a profitable company. Despite all his successes, Dave continued to bus tables during the lunch hour at one of his restaurants to stay close to his customers. When he passed away in 1970, Dave Frisch left behind a beloved legacy and a company with $30 million in annual sales.

Today, Frisch’s is a modern brand with food and decor that appeals to multiple generations. It’s a special place that never ceases to delight new and returning customers — many who have fond memories of Frisch’s through the years and others who are making fond memories today.

  • Frisch’s Introduces New Spicy Tartar Sauce

    Frisch’s Introduces New Spicy Tartar Sauce

    Feeling a little spicy on National Tartar Sauce Day, Frisch’s introduced our new Spicy Tartar Sauce! Spice up your favorites!

  • Coke is Back!

    Coke is Back!

    June 2018, CEO Jason Vaughn announced that Coca-Cola® was returning to Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants. Coca-Cola® reappeared at Frisch’s Mainliner restaurant on July 27, 2018, with other stores to follow. Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart was on hand to pour the first Coke at 11 am.

  • Frisch’s Returns to Downtown

    Frisch’s Returns to Downtown

    Frisch’s returned to Downtown Cincinnati, OH in June 2018, opening a Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant on the ground floor of the Carew Tower.

  • New Big Boy Introduced

    New Big Boy Introduced

    A new, slimmer, friendlier Eastern Big Boy debuts at Frisch’s Covington, Kentucky, location and quickly takes his place on cups and bags.

  • New CEO Selected

    Jason Vaughn CEO

    Jason Vaughn, an experienced restaurant leader, is appointed CEO of Frisch’s Big Boy Restaurants Inc.

  • Frisch’s Acquired by NRD Capital

    Frisch’s Acquired by NRD Capital

    In August 2015, the Company was acquired by National Restaurant Development (NRD), a private equity firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. The transaction to take the Company private, brought to a close Frisch’s 55 year history a publicly traded company.

  • Food Stands Open at Great American Ball Park

    Food Stands Open at Great American Ball Park

    Frisch’s opens two food stands at Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds, serving Big Boy sandwiches and French fries from two food booths. A Big Boy statue wearing a 1970s Cincinnati Reds uniform is installed in the stadium. The statue bears the number 46 to represent the year Frisch’s introduced the Big Boy sandwich at the Mainliner.  Retired in 2016.

  • Primetime Burgers Introduced

    Primetime Burgers Introduced

    Frisch’s introduces Primetime Burgers that are 1/3 lb. fresh, never frozen, 100% American beef.

  • Exclusive Big Boy Ownership

    Exclusive Big Boy Ownership

    The Company acquires exclusive ownership of Big Boy trademark rights in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

  • Tarter Sauce Appears in Grocery Stores

    Tarter Sauce Appears in Grocery Stores

    Frisch’s famous homemade Tartar Sauce appears on grocery store shelves in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.

  • New President Elected

    Craig F. Maier, eldest son of Jack and Blanche, is elected President and Chief Executive Officer, following more than a decade of service to Frisch’s. Additionally, the Company launches its popular “What’s Your Favorite Thing?”® marketing tagline to advertising promotions.

  • Hartwell Introduces Drive-Thru Service

    The Hartwell location in Cincinnati welcomes the introduction of drive-thru service that is rapidly expanded to all Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants. This move signals an acceleration to the end of the car-hop era.

  • Breakfast & Salad Bars Introduced

    Breakfast & Salad Bars Introduced

    The Soup, Salad ’n Fruit Bar and Breakfast Bar service are introduced in all Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants.

  • Partnership with Cincinnati Zoo

    Partnership with Cincinnati Zoo

    Frisch’s begins a 40 year partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo sponsoring the Educational Outreach Program. This program reaches 1,000 classes or 30,000 K-12 students per year.

  • Sponsorship with Cincinnati Ballet

    Sponsorship with Cincinnati Ballet

    Frisch’s begins sponsorship of Cincinnati Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker which becomes a December holiday tradition in Cincinnati.

  • New Menu Items Added

    New Menu Items Added

    Two new items are added to the menu: the popular Swiss Miss hamburger and Frisch’s signature Hot Fudge Cake, which quickly becomes the most popular and best-selling, year-round dessert.

  • New President Elected

    New President Elected

    Jack C. Maier is elected President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, following the passing of David Frisch.

  • Radio Sponsorship with the Cincinnati Reds

    Reds Logo

    Frisch’s begins radio sponsorship of the Cincinnati Reds starting the longest running radio sponsorship of the team.

  • Frisch’s Sells Tartar Sauce

    Frisch’s begins selling its signature Tartar Sauce in pint jars for the take home market.

  • Frisch’s Launches an IPO

    Frisch’s successfully launches an initial public offering (IPO) of its stock.

  • Frisch’s Opens in Indiana

    Frisch’s expands to the Indiana market opening a location in Lawrenceburg Indiana.

  • Frisch’s Big Boy Statue Debuts

    The first Frisch’s Big Boy statue debuts. Called the Eastern Big Boy, Dave Frisch’s version featured Frisch’s Big Boy on his sleeve, striped overalls, a hat and the figure in a galloping gait. The Frisch’s Big Boy remains a guest favorite at the entrance of Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants.

  • Frisch’s Opens in Kentucky

    Frisch’s Opens in Kentucky

    Frisch’s opens a Big Boy in the Kentucky market.

  • The First Frisch’s Opens

    The First Frisch’s Opens

    The first Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant opens on Central Parkway near downtown Cincinnati, with eight counter seats and 60 car spaces for curb service.

  • Jack C. Maier Joins Frisch’s

    Jack C. Maier Joins Frisch’s

    Jack C. Maier joins the company as a part-time car-hop and marries Dave’s youngest daughter, Blanche, the following year.

  • Big Boy Double Decker is Created

    1946-1

    Dave samples the Big Boy double-decked hamburger, created by Bob Wian of Glendale, CA. In what proves to be a momentous decision. Dave makes the Big Boy sandwich using his homemade tartar sauce to replace Mr. Wian’s recipe that called for Thousand Island dressing. Dave’s signature sauce becomes a key staple on Frisch’s menu.

  • Dave Opens the Mainliner

    1939-1

    Dave opens the Mainliner, Cincinnati’s first year round drive-in restaurant. The restaurant was named for the first tri-motor passenger plane that operated from nearby Lunken Airport. An image of the airplane was featured on its sign, and still is today.

  • Dave Takes Over Restaurant

    1923-1

    Dave Frisch and two of his nine siblings, Reuben and Irving, take over restaurant operations following the death of their father.

  • Frisch’s Stag Lunch Opens

    Samuel Frisch opens Frisch’s Stag Lunch in Norwood, a suburb of Cincinnati.

  • Frisch Opens First Cafe

    Samuel Frisch

    Samuel Frisch opens Frisch’s Cafe in Cincinnati

  • David Frisch Is Born

    David Frisch

    David Frisch, the ninth of ten children is born to Samuel and Blanch Frisch.

History Snapshot: Place to cruise

Frisch’s Big Boy: A Louisville Memoir By Rick Mattingly
Originally appeared in The Louisville Courier-Journal November 11, 1994. Reprinted with permission of the author.

…For older teens who could drive, Frisch’s was the place to cruise. They could show off their wheels and meet up with their friends, and there was always the promise (usually unfulfilled) of meeting someone new of the opposite sex. You could park under the wavy, corrugated awnings and actually order food. Each parking space had its own mounted menu and intercom, a waitress would deliver food right to your car…

…But however much Frisch’s may have been a place where teens could be teens, it was also a place where we could start to feel like the adults we were about to become. The waitresses treated us like adults, calling us “sir” and “ma’am” and coming by mid-meal to ask if everything was okay. We didn’t have to pay for the food until we had finished eating, and we learned to leave the tip before we left the table. We were each given a menu, a set of stainless steel utensils and a glass (not a plastic cup) of water. The food was served on real dishes and was hot from having just been cooked which is very different from food that has been kept warm under a light..

Standing Big Boy with slingshot

Over the years, Frisch’s Big Boy, also known as the East Coast Big Boy, has greeted guests with his happy smile and our signature Big Boy hamburger. Read more about this brand icon here.

BIG BOY THROUGH THE YEARS

Big Boy through the years

1946

Dave Frisch introduces the Big Boy Sandwich

Big Boy through the years

1947

Bob Wian, founder of Big Boy, and Dave Frisch sign licensing agreement

Big Boy through the years

1982

Frisch's Big Boy trades in striped overalls for a checkered pair

Big Boy through the years

1992

Big Boy loses his prized slingshot

Big Boy through the years

2006

Frisch's celebrates 60 years of Frisch's Big Boy with a create your own Big Boy Bank contest

Big Boy through the years

2013

Frisch's Big Boy, #46, debuts at Great American Ball Park — an instant fan sensation. Retired in 2016.

Big Boy through the years

2016

Frisch's debuts a new, friendlier and slimmer Big Boy

Big Boy through the years

2017

Frisch's Big Boy returns to striped overalls and finds his beloved slingshot

Big Boy through the years

2017

The new Frisch's Big Boy #46 at Great American Ball Park

Big Boy

Big Boy has had a storied career—some would even call him an icon. He inspires art. He brings families together for photographs. He always maintains a positive attitude (actually, come to think of it, no one has ever seen a frown on his face). There have been many worthy tributes to Big Boy over the years, and we’d like to share a few of them here with you, in the Hall of Big Boy.

     

Frisch’s Big Boy Advertisement 1961 Cincinnati Policeman’s Ball

Pirate Bank
Frischs Big Boy Menu 6
Building Big Boy

Building the NEW Big Boy

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Fate of Big Boy
Status of LibertyBank

Wow! Take a Look at What the Covington Frisch’s Looks Like Now!

Read the full story
Frischs Big Boy Menu 7
Gift Certificate
Frischs Big Boy Menu 4
Pot of Gold Bank
Win Place Or Show Bank
The Artist Bank
Uncle Big Boy Bank
Being a Big Boy
Frischs Big Boy Menu 9
Frischs Big Boy Menu 10

Makeover transforms Big Boy into ‘buff boy’

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New-look Big Boy, menu and restaurant changes for Frisch’s

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Frischs Big Boy Menu 1
Frischs Big Boy Menu 5
Gone Fishing Bank
Elvis Bank
Frischs Big Boy Menu 11
Bakes The BEst
Frischs Big Boy Menu 3
Frischs Big Boy Menu 2
Ava's Drawing

Ava’s Drawing

Surfs Up Dude Bank
USMC Bank
Frischs Big Boy Menu 8
Reds Bank