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Bismarck Big Boy

The Beginning

Harley McDowell opened Big Boy in Bismarck in 1954. McDowell had eaten in one in another state during a business trip and decided to open one in Bismarck. That same year, McDowell also became the fourth KFC franchisee. “Colonel” Harland Sanders and McDowell ultimately became close friends.

McDowell sold the Bismarck restaurants to Stan and Bonnie Rothenberger in 1978. Rothenberger was the manager of the Municipal Country Club. He was not the highest of five bids. Nonetheless, McDowell selected him for “his established reputation for honest business and quality food service.” McDowell remained on the board for seven years after the sale was finalized.


Where we are now

In 2017, Rothenberger sold Big Boy to Chad Wachter. Since acquiring the restaurant, Wachter has overseen several improvements. These include an easier-to-read menu board, a second drive-through exit, and also a park with multiple outdoor picnic benches for outside dining in the summer months. As a lifelong Bismarck resident and fan of Big Boy, Wachter has made sure that the recipes of your favorites have remained the same.

Other regional locations also once existed in downtown Bismarck, Fargo, Minot, Dickinson, and Medora, but the original Bismarck restaurant remains the sole survivor.

“We are proud to be part of many memories that center around family and food. Food from Big Boy brings back fond family memories for me. We made improvements to the property, but the food is the same. There was no need to mess with perfection. Our food will taste the same way it did when you ate it with your family, on that first date, or on some other special day in your life.”
– Chad Wachter, Owner
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