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Big Boy to bounce back


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POSTED: Saturday, August 15, 2009

Question: What's the status of Bob's Big Boy restaurant in Mapunapuna? It was damaged by fire, and we wanted to know when it will reopen.

Answer: Bob's Big Boy has been closed since the fire in April, but it will be bigger and better when it reopens in several months, said Joseph Hu, an attorney representing the franchise holder.

“;We plan to expand and modernize the kitchen and make it a better restaurant. ... It will be entirely new and modernized,”; Hu said.

More seating will be added to accommodate loyal customers, along with a drive-through window and takeout espresso bar, he said. It will take a number of months for an architect to finish drafting the building plan and get it approved by the city permit offices, he added. Hu could not give an estimated completion date.

A majority of the 60 employees, some of them longtime workers, have maintained contact with the company for rehire. And with the expansion, additional staff will be needed, he said.

Some $1.5 million in damage was caused to the 34-year-old eatery at 2828 Paa St. by the pre-dawn fire April 13 when a stove burner was left on overnight. It took 36 firefighters to get the fire under control, leaving the kitchen charred and the dining area damaged by water and smoke.

Bob's Big Boy offered a slice of Americana with its 1950s malt shop favorites and “;Big Boy”; icon, which greeted customers at the door.

“;The Big Boy has a little dust on it, but it's alive and well,”; said Hu.

The restaurant attracted repeat customers with classic items like its Big Boy Double Decker Burgers and thick milkshakes, generous portions and reasonable prices. Later, local favorites such as oxtail soup and the Sumo Boy Burger were added to its menu.

The restaurant opened in 1975 as part of a chain established by Bob Wian in Glendale, Calif. It became locally owned in 1991 by a coalition called Bob's Big Boy of Hawaii, Hu said.

Question: I read the “;Kokua Line”; column about tipping (July 25) and was wondering about tipping at fast-food places, like McDonald's, KFC or Zippy's. Is it OK to tip in fast-food restaurants, and if so, what is proper tipping for them?

Answer: Victor Lim, franchise holder of several McDonald's restaurants and a former chairman of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, said, “;Most fast-food restaurants do not require or expect customers to tip. Occasionally some customer really wants to do something for the great service, but it is strictly the customer's prerogative and generosity, strictly volunteer. We don't encourage or solicit it.”;

Steve Johnson, president of Kazi Foods Corp. of Hawaii, said employees at the company's 27 KFC and 22 Burger King restaurants statewide are discouraged from accepting tips because “;it's not fair to the people who work hard in the kitchen in the back. I'm not saying it's right or wrong.”;

“;But if a customer really, really wants to give it, I will allow them to do it, but we have no tip jar on the counter. It's not common in the fast-food industry, and we follow the competition,”; he said.

A spokeswoman for Zippy's Restaurants' customer service department said, “;We don't allow tips at our fast-food restaurants.”;

However, tipping is allowed in the locations — more than 20 on Oahu — where dining rooms with table service are available. If a customer feels moved to reward a counter person, he can fill out a “;Wow”; card, which will recognize the server.

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”;Kokua Line's”; June Watanabe is on leave. Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).