Archived Story

Big Boy coming to Ironton?

Published 11:22am Thursday, August 22, 2013

Joining Ninth Street hotel project


Frisch’s Big Boy franchise is the family-style chain restaurant that is expected to be part of the Ninth Street development project that is slated to bring a hotel to Ironton.

The restaurant, as well as the Holiday Inn Express, has long been rumored but was specifically identified in the application for a Community Development Block Grant to gain funding for the $10 million project.

The goal of the grant is to get about 60 percent of the $800,500 that is the local share on the project. That will go for site development work. The rest of the local share could come as in-kind work contributions.

Approximately $9.2 million of the project will come from investments by private developers and the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation.

Soliciting bids for site work could begin by the end of the month.

“Hopefully everything will be clear to put it out for bid in the next week or two,” Ralph Kline of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, said.

“We can come in and do improvements on the public rights of way.”

The project, which takes in about a four and a half block area from near Park Avenue to Adams Street and from U.S. 52 to Eight and Half Street, is planned in different phases.

The initial phase would be the hotel and restaurant with possible shops or services to come later that would be complements to the complex.

“Because of the slopes and different things, there is quite a bit of work we want to do at the site,” Kline said. “The rest of the cost is up to the private developers. We are taking care of (site work) and they get a developable site and they take it from there.”

On Wednesday the second phase of the CDBG application was completed.

“We submitted the grant application in July,” Kline said. “They do their review and come back with comments and questions and after you respond, they do their final approval.”

The LEDC is lead investor in the project, partnering with others to borrow approximately $5 million for the project.

“(Developers are) utilizing design standards similar to the (St. Mary’s) medical campus where you will have future phases where it will look nice,” Kline said.

The former county garage and Dennis Boll Group and Shelteer Home were razed to make way for the hotel. Still on the property is the former armory that could also be part of the complex.

“That hopefully will be developed in the not-so-distant future,” Kline said. “There are some individuals who possibly could utilize the building. That is one possible outcome.”

Headquartered in Cincinnati, the first Big Boy diner opened in 1948. Now the chain has 93 restaurants operating predominately in Ohio and Kentucky.

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  • revmac

    The last time I ate at Ironton’s Big Boy was Jan 20, 1966. Mom and Dad treated me to a burger and the best strawberry pie I ever tasted. I remember it well, because I shipped out for the Army the next day. I looked for it when I came home for Dad’s funeral in 2001, but it was gone. It would be great for the city if it came back with good management and competent cooks and wait-staff.

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  • Geronimo

    The last Big Boy I ate at , my wife and I were in Chillicothe we had the ‘Big Boy and onion rings and as I remember the Ironton Big Boys , the food is still very good. (59-62) when I returned from the Army, We resumed. Food was still good.

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  • outoftowner

    This area just seems to be “locked” by the nature of the geography. Why here? Your whole flank is closed because of the hill. this area is a neighborhood and is best fitted for that purpose. The Ironton HIlls complex seems more logical for development. Good traffic flow, open and already established.
    As always in Ironton, this stinks of the “who” is going to turn a profit and run out from under this afterwards. It’s always boils down to someone saying that this is in Ironton’s best interest and all that is really at stake is someone taking advantage of the grants and running.

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    • mikehaney

      Didn’t someone try across from hills and someone bought a parcel and locked it up?

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    • Digi

      You’re right there, would love to know the “who” is the one benefitting because we know it’s not the citizens. Other than those that love the Big Boy food it seems. And I agree, another empty mall with nothing in it yet we build more buildings in a city where no one even wants to run for council? That really does say a lot for this town.

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      • swampcreature

        While it is not the restaurant I would select for this city, I guess something is better than nothing.

        If you recall, Ironton had two Big Boys. Ashland had one as well. If it did not work here when the city was thriving, how will it work today?

        My mom worked at Big Boy. I loved the food back in the day. Last time I ate at one (about five years ago), I was pretty disappointed in the sandwich and onion rings. Onion rings used to be breaded in house and tasty. I would rather eat raw eggs than what Big Boy now serves as onion rings.

        I will certainly give our new Big Boy a chance. Hot fudge cake is worth a trip in by itself. Hopefully, the restaurant will get a top-shelf manager. Solid management and outstanding service are the only ways I believe it will be able to compete with the long list of restaurants Ashland now offers.

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      • Digi

        I remember the Big Boys that used to be here! And I totally agree it will take some string management to get one to thrive here. I would rather have seen the Chipotle that Huntington is having built go in around here though! Now that would have been unique and would thrive in this area for sure! It would be nice to see one of these plans actually work, but this is another far fetched one when there is so much needed here first.

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    • tiggeroo

      AMEN to that.

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  • Poor Richard


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  • mikehaney
  • Ironton Cares

    This has made my day!!!!! :))))

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