It was 1936, the height of the Great Depression. But despite The Great Depression, Bob Wian had a dream, which was to own a restaurant and be his own boss.
But Bob had a big problem, he had no money.
However he would not be denied. He sold his car for $350 and used that money to open a tiny 10 stool diner, which he called Bob's Pantry. It was tiny but it was a start, at a time when he could easily have gone broke.
But fate intervened.
One day in his tiny restaurant, he and a friend were joking around and his friend asked Bob to fix a unique hamburger, something special.
What Bob fixed was a giant double burger, which not only captivated his friend's appetite; it soon captivated the appetites of a lot more customers.
Yet there was still something missing before Bob's Pantry could become successful.
Once again, fate intervened.
One of Bob's regular customers was a little boy who sat on a stool eating hamburgers. Eventually his grandmother would tell him he was done and take him home.
Bob had a friend who was an animator at nearby Warner Bros. Studios.
Hearing this story, this animator grabbed a napkin and drew a cute character that quickly became the popular image of Bob's Pantry, which soon changed its name to reflect that image: Bob's Big Boy.
Bob's Big Boy
This cute character is still the symbol today in each of Bob's Big Boy restaurants throughout the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
As for Bob Wian, he kept opening Bob's Big Boy restaurants until the Marriot Corp. bought him out in 1967 paying what was then a stunning $7 million (more than $50 million in today's money).
Bob retired from business during the 1970's and relocated his family to an 800 acre ranch near Palmdale, California outside of Los Angeles.
There they settled until 1985, when Bob and his wife June relocated to Newport Beach, California where they lived until Bob's passing in 1992 at the age of 77.
Bob's story serves as an inspiration to anyone with big entrepreneurial dreams and little money. It just takes courage and some creativity to start a compelling journey.