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Big Boy Bounced Out of New England

April 14, 1994

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ The Big Boy needs to grow up, says a New England restaurant chain that’s replacing the burger-toting kid in red-checked overalls with less fatty cuisine.

Abdow Corp., the region’s last Big Boy franchise holder, has dropped its affiliation with the Michigan-based Elias Bros. chain that now holds the rights to the chubby-cheeked mascot. The fiberglass figure has been removed from 18 Abdow restaurants in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The break stemmed in part from a decision to move further into family-style dining with menus featuring more home-style New England favorites and broiled foods with less fat, said George and Ronald Abdow. The two operate the Springfield-based chain.

And as Big Boy became more Midwest-centered, Midwestern tastes and consumer preferences dominated its menu and advertising, they said.

″We just felt we were not getting the value of service for the franchise fee,″ George Abdow said Thursday.

The chain has 950 restaurants concentrated in the Midwest and South, said Tony Michaels, vice president for marketing for Elias in Warren, Mich. He confirmed Abdow’s defection.

Ronald Abdow said that parting with the Big Boy is emotional. He’s holding onto three mascots. The others are up for sale for up to $1,000, depending on their size.

″We’ve been with the little guy for 35 years and you get kind of fond of him,″ he said. ″But we’ve grown up.″