The owner of Bridgeport’s Big Boy reflects on more than 40 ‘glorious’ years in business

BRIDGEPORT TOWNSHIP, MI — Eva Stone said her Big Boy restaurant on Dixie Highway in Bridgeport Township is more than just a place to eat.

For more than 40 years, her restaurant has been a place for families, friendships, gatherings and community.

“I have customers that have been here with me the whole time, quite a few of them,” Stone said. “When people come home to Bridgeport, they come to Big Boy. It’s about time; You can go in and the same faces are still there. It was just a beautiful thing.”

Stone was 21 when she and her late brother, Jim Katsoulos, opened the restaurant in 1979 with the help of their late father, John Katsoulos, an attorney for Big Boy founders, the Elias Brothers.

Now, at 65, she is preparing to close her doors and retire and reflect on the career she loved.

“I loved it. I still love it. I’m sure I’m going to cry when I walk out the door,” Stone said one weekday morning in January.

Big Boy, located at 6301 Dixie Highway in Bridgeport, will continue to serve customers four days a week, Thursday through Sunday, through the end of the month, with Sunday, Jan. 29, being its last day of business.

Stone said she will miss her longtime customers and staff, two of whom, Ann Wright and Terry Moore, have worked there since the restaurant was new — “a remarkable thing,” she said.

“I thought I was going to retire from here,” said Wright, who started working at Big Boy as a server in 1981, right out of high school, and has been there ever since. “I wanted to squeeze in my 50s.”

Moore, who joined the staff as a server the same year, said leaving the restaurant would be “heartbreaking.”

“I’ve had people tear up when they found out,” she said. “Nobody wants to believe that.”

Stone said her restaurant was a special place for both staff and customers.

“People become family, and we’ve had a lot of family over the years,” she said. “It just fosters a camaraderie that’s unique to the restaurant industry, which is the best part of it.”

The longtime restaurant owner, who previously owned Big Boy in Birch Run, said she feels blessed to have had this career, employing thousands of people and making countless friendships and memories along the way.

“It was magnificent,” she said. “It was life.”

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