Michigan Big Boy refuses to stop dine-in service, loses right to franchise name
A Big Boy restaurant in Michigan’s Thumb region has lost its name after the owners refused to stop indoor dining as part of statewide restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Customers were greeted Friday with Sandusky Diner instead of Sandusky Big Boy, the name for 35 years. The company that grants franchises took action. Big Boy restaurants are known by their statue of a boy in checkered overalls holding a burger over his head.
The Sandusky location, about 88 miles (141 kilometers) north of Detroit, was one of four eateries cited this week for violating the state’s order against indoor dining. Three other establishments, including one of the restaurants, also had their liquor licenses suspended.
Big Boy’s corporate office told the owners that they had 24 hours to comply with the state’s order, said Troy Tank, part owner and operations manager for the restaurant.
“We had already decided we weren’t going to do that,” Tank told The Associated Press. “We would be open only for carry-out. We were not in a position to do that again. We had already done it for three months earlier in quarantine.”
Tank said his restaurant struggled during that period.
“Our backs were against the wall, and we knew we were going to have to fight,” he said.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced limits on bars and restaurants amid a surge of COVID-19 cases. A public health order also restricts gatherings.
The restrictions forced Michigan high schools and colleges to halt in-person classes for three weeks, while entertainment businesses such as casinos, movie theaters and bowling alleys are also closed.
On Friday, Michigan said it had averaged more than 8,500 new coronavirus cases over two days. It reported 172 additional deaths, including 108 found in a review of past records.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued citations to four restaurants Wednesday, while the Liquor Control Commission suspended the liquor licenses.