Big Boy Celebrates 60th Anniversary by Turning Green

When Bob Wian opened a 10-seat hamburger stand in Glendale, Calif., in 1936, he couldn’t have predicted how famous the logo of the smiling little boy in the checkered overalls would become. But Big Boy has become part of American fast-food culture.

In May 2009, Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank celebrated its 60th anniversary as the oldest remaining Big Boy in the United States by pow-ering up the restaurant with a new 26-kilowatt solar power system. Bob’s also launched a “Solar & Sixty” campaign to showcase the new system and the restaurant’s related initiatives to reduce electricity consumption.

“We went from T-12 to T-8 fluorescent bulbs that are supposed to be 50 percent more efficient. We also had our HVAC system tuned up; however, we are planning to replace the unit with a more energy-efficient one,” said owner Philip MacDonald.

High-efficiency T-8s at 32 watts provide the same illumination as T-12s at 40 watts.

Solar & Sixty also invited customers to share their favorite memories at Bob’s. More than 40 interviews were filmed over a weekend and posted on Bob’s Web site (, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace.

Designed and installed by HelioPower, Murrietta, Calif., the solar power system consists of 132 Canadian Solar CS6P 200 modules that are mounted on the restaurant’s large steel carports and on the roof of neighboring building. On Saturday and Sunday nights, the car-ports provide 1950s style carhop service. Friday is Classic Car Night, often attended by celebrities such as Jay Leno.

Bob’s solar installation will produce 39 megawatt hours of electricity annually—enough green energy to offset the electrical demand of about seven homes.

“Bob’s has a very special place in the American landscape,” said Greg Ashley, acting president of Canadian Solar (USA) Inc. “The owners of this unique structure have demonstrated leadership to building owners across the country. By optimizing renewable-energy design and historical architecture, Bob’s has proven that green energy and architectural charm can work well together.”

About the Author

Mike Breslin

Freelance Writer
Mike Breslin is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He has 30-years experience writing for newspapers, magazines, multimedia and video production companies with concentration on business, energy, environmental and technical subjects. Mike is auth...

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