Big Boy goes fast-casual with new Southfield eatery, plans to expand to Southeast Asia

A few traditional Big Boy restaurants will also open in the next year in Michigan, including a Woodward location where Pasquale's was for 65 years

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Big Boy double-decker burgers and Slim Jims are going fast-casual with the opening of the chain's latest restaurant this week in Southfield. 

The 3,000-square-foot business at 26400 Telegraph has customers ordering at a counter rather than from a server who comes to the table. Big Boy Restaurant Group CEO David Crawford said this location will serve as a prototype restaurant where they can not only test this concept, but also develop and experiment with new menu items. 

Big Boy's fast-casual concept opened Tuesday in Southfield.

"In other states we have a lot of interest in a smaller-footprint Big Boy," he said. There are also plans to team up with a large franchisee, Destination Eats, to open several restaurants in Southeast Asia. 

"We have 274 restaurants in Japan right now," Crawford told The Detroit News Thursday. "The chain has had a presence in that part of the world I think 40 years or so ... it's a great brand in that part of the world because the American icon is so recognizable."

Crawford said Destination Eats plans to open at least 70 Big Boys in Southeast Asia, starting with 10 in seven countries and growing to possibly 1,000. These could be fast-casual, drive-through or diner-style, depending on what the area's needs are. 

While Big Boy, which is headquartered in Warren, is celebrating the opening of this fast-casual restaurant in Southfield this week, more traditional Big Boys with table service, salad bars and breakfast buffets are planned for elsewhere in Michigan. 

Big Boy's fast-casual concept opened Tuesday in Southfield.

Restaurants in Muskegeon and Okemos should open this year, and in 2020 Big Boy expects to come to Fraser and in Royal Oak. The latter location will be on Woodward where Pasquale's Italian restaurant stood for 65 years. 

"We're looking at building options right now," said Crawford, adding that the size of the Woodward location will have a square footage of 4,000-4,500 and offer the buffet. It's expected to open in the second quarter of 2020.

These forthcoming locations may feature some of the new menu items that will be experimented with at the Southfield test kitchen. Crawford said they've added chicken kabob, the Impossible Burger and an updated Greek salad. He said no matter what they add to the menu, though, the Big Boy burger and the pressed ham and Swiss cheese Slim Jim are always customer favorites. 

More:Death of Detroit’s last Big Boy sparks east side angst

More:Metro Detroiters reminisce on Big Boy’s last day

More:Pasquale's in Royal Oak to close April 7 after 65 years

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Big Boy's fast-casual concept opened Tuesday in Southfield. The restaurant group will also open a traditional Big Boy where Pasquale's was on Woodward in Royal Oak.