In August, Ovation Sarah Chudnow hosted the nostalgic return of a fast-food icon—Marc’s Big Boy restaurants, which closed its last remaining Wisconsin location in 1995. The evening included a dinner of classic favorites—the Big Boy Burger, famous onion rings, fries and strawberry pie—and a special presentation by guest speakers Steve and Greg Marcus of the Marcus Corporation. For nearly 40 years they operated more than 60 Big Boy restaurants in the Midwest.
Larry Ladin, rehab admissions coordinator for Ovation Sarah Chudnow and organizer of the event, said the response was phenomenal. The dinner quickly reached capacity with 200 attendees, ranging from former Big Boy employees and suppliers to Big Boy super-fans and aficionados, and one who even claimed he had been to every Big Boy restaurant in the country.
The Big Boy Reunion also caught the attention of local media—a feature surrounding the event was published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WTMJ 620 interviewed Ladin for a radio news segment, and the local FOX station came to broadcast the highlights.
“I never dreamed it would be as big as it was. It took off like crazy,” said Ladin. “Nostalgia is big in our community and in the baby boomer generation, so people who didn’t know each other were sharing their Big Boy stories and experiences.”
Guest speakers Greg Marcus, President and CEO, and Steve Marcus, Chairman of the Board, took event-goers back to the Big Boy experience, shared the history of Big Boy and what the Marcus Corporation is doing today. They also discussed the hardships they faced when fast-food chains like Burger King and McDonald’s entered the industry.
“The Marcuses couldn’t have been more gracious,” said Ladin. “You could tell they were really into the event because they were the last ones to leave.”
Ladin is already planning to hold a similar event in the future, this time to bring back Dutchland Dairy, whose claim to fame was a bucket of fish, onion strands and milk in dark glass bottles.
“I can already see the bottles of the milk on the table,” he said.