Shoney’s is not what it used to be. Once known for its Big Boy – the sandwich and the imposing figure in the parking lot – they separated from the franchise back in the 70’s. Today there are only a few hundred restaurants left of the thousands that were in business back in the 90’s.
Am I too young to enjoy eating at Shoney’s? I have fond memories of our local Shoney’s establishment in my home town of Calhoun, GA. We didn’t eat out very often, so going to a restaurant was a special occasion. It usually meant that my parents had company from out of town, someone from church took us out, or perhaps it was an adult’s birthday. I might have ordered the Big Boy; I’ve been eating Big Mac’s since about age 5. It’s more likely that I had the All American Burger. I don’t exactly remember what the difference was, but the All American came with a tiny American flag. A family trip to Shoney’s was a rare occasion and always exciting.
I went to work for Shoney’s during my senior year of high school. Minimum wage at that time was $3.25. McDonald’s starting salary was $3.30, while Shoney’s started it’s employees at $3.75. Shortly after I started working, they shut down for a week and did a total redesign. That store still looks great today. I treat my mother to the breakfast buffet a few times each year.
My wife and I stopped in at a Shoney’s in Tennessee just the other night. For around nine bucks you get an all you can buffet with hot food, salad bar, soup, fruit and dessert. Kids 4 and under eat free. You can’t beat it. There hasn’t been a new restaurant opened in years, and like I said they are in fact in decline. It’s a shame though. The food is real, and not priced to kill. The service is great. And it’s way more family friendly than a grill & bar.