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How we reported on Frisch’s Big Boy and the restaurant closures

How we reported on Frisch’s Big Boy and the restaurant closures
How we reported on Frisch’s Big Boy and the restaurant closures

Although Frisch’s Big Boy is no longer locally owned, locals still feel like it belongs to them.

While I’m not a native Cincinnati resident, I’ve lived here for over two decades, and my family enjoys breakfast at Delhi Township Frisch’s every now and then. My colleague, cookbook author Keith Pandolfi, who co-wrote the story with me, tells me that he grew up in Anderson Township, and “Frisch’s on Beechmont Ave. was right up our alley (for the family).”

When the restaurant chain, now controlled by an Atlanta investment firm, announced that five more restaurants would close in the spring, it seemed the closures were piling up. A review of listed locations found that nearly a third have disappeared since the 2015 takeover.

So Keith and I reached out to the company to inquire about Frisch’s direction and how the company is navigating the difficult situation facing the nationwide restaurant industry, which is plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, a tight labor market, and food and wage inflation.

In addition to speaking with Frisch’s new CEO, we interviewed industry experts who noted that restaurants like Big Boy are struggling to grow nationwide as the restaurant sector evolves and becomes more competitive. Some noted that the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing problems of many once-popular brand names in the family restaurant segment (the recently bankrupt Red Lobster was mentioned a few times).

Meanwhile, many Frisch fans here in Cincinnati have complained about the decline in quality and service since the change in ownership, while others have defended the popular local eatery, saying it still offers high-quality food despite the industry’s struggles.