I don’t think I stepped in it about Big Boy and Covid

ACHTUNG: The following is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

I have received some negative feedback from and challenges to my announcement that the Wayland Big Boy Restaurant soon will be closing to make way for a Culver’s eatery.

One commenter even suggested that I “stepped in it” twice with that story and another about a Covid-19 breakout at St. Therese Church. Allow me to defend myself.

In the case of Big Boy, was tipped off by one of my most credible sources, who also indicated hearing about the change from someone close to the situation.

Furthermore, I have done some amateur personal sleuthing by paying attention to activity at the local restaurant as much as possible, which has yielded the information that the place is open for breakfast and lunch, but that’s it. The building is bereft of cars in the parking and it’s dark and closed during prime time dinner hours.

Now I hear tell from naysayers that the manager is only available during those hours and is stretched thin by working two jobs. In case anyone has forgotten, the Big Boy manager passed away last summer.

This is a recipe for trouble for the Big Boy in Wayland. I don’t see how it can survive with such limited hours. It doesn’t fit into a niche market, like the Auction House Café, which is open only for breakfast and lunch except on Auction Tuesdays.

I was further struck Saturday when I stopped for gasoline just before entering the Mackinac Bridge. I was next door to a Big Boy there, which I couldn’t help but notice it was closed in the middle of the day on Saturday with no signs of any activity.

So my theory is that the Big Boy franchise is in trouble. I have thought for some time now that the chain has seen its best days and now is fading into history, just like Bill Knapp’s, Burger Chef, Howard Johnson’s, Mr. Burger and many others than have fallen from the landscape. Big Boy seems to be a restaurant steeped in traditions from days gone by, making it a prime target for replacement by a more hip eatery — like Culver’s.

As far as “stepping in it” on St. Therese, I personally know more than a few members and people who attend that church. They were able to give me 13 names of people in the congregation who had contracted Covid, including the pastor and members of the choir.

I’d call that an outbreak.


  • Mr Young:
    I hardly ever agree with you. In this editorial I must say you are very much “spot on”….
    Not sure Culver’s is coming, but Big Boy sure doesn’t look like it will last much longer.
    Sadly, most fail to realize just how many in Allegan County have contacted the Covid virus lately. Not all have died, but it has affected more families than we want to admit. It is easier to turn a “blind eye” and make believe all is well.

  • Even though I no
    longer work in Wayland, I still enjoy reading your articles. But I think you were mistaken to add “Mr. Burger” to your list of dying franchises. This local chain remains quite popular, and is always busy whenever my husband and I stop in. They are known for classic diner fare and fast, efficient service. I don’t see them disappearing anytime soon.

    • Who are your credible sources ?? Tread Boy or old farm Boy?? I read Daves editorials all the time sometimes I agree sometimes not. Editorials are not written to win popularity contests 50 -50 the best you can do.

  • I talked to a long time member of the St Therese church and he told me there were 22 cases of covid in the parish in just two weeks. I would call that a outbreak.

  • Editor,

    So we go to the public with a theory however present it as fact? Interesting……..You might be correct, Big Boy might be in trouble. To say Culvers is moving in is quite a theory, and probably fake news though time will tell.


  • Big Boy franchisees around the state, including those north of the bridge, are struggling for help, especially wait staff because big box stores are offering $14-$16 per hour wages with minimum of 20 hours or more guarantee for the most profitable hours. But they aren’t alone.

    The independently owned and operated eateries have changed to cater to breakfast and lunch to reduce hours and keep the most profitable meals on the menu. Besides the untimely death of the franchisee/manager, the Wayland Big Boy was also getting competition from the Gun Lake Casino.

    Suspect a prospective Culver’s franchise applicant may have inquired about the site’s availability but Culver’s has a lot requirements to meet, including lot size, traffic flow, population within a store’s radius before granting a franchisee rights for a location. The best place to confirm if Culver’s is coming to Wayland will be at a City Planning Commision meeting.

    Its no surprise a local church is getting hit hard by COVID because its parishioners are representative of the local population. According reported COVID data, Allegan County has averaged 97 new COVID cases per day for the last 14 days. While 82% of residents age 62 and up are vaccinated, just 59% of those 18+ and 57% of those at least 12 years old have had two vaccinations. Combine that with those under 12, that means only 52% of the county has been fully vaccinated.

    Spectrum Health reports that 80% of their patients admitted due to COVID related illnesses were not vaccinated and hospital census is starting to delay scheduled surgeries like orthopedic and cardiac procedures.

    If COVID numbers take another bump that we could see somewhere between Dec 5 to Dec 8 (10 days after Thanksgiving and the long weekend) I wouldn’t be surprised to see local school districts begin their holiday break early, extending it from 17 up to 21 days (including weekends).

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