Dave Frisch. Courtesy Frisch's Archives copyright Frisch's Restaurants, Inc. 2008, with Karen Maier's approval.
David Frisch was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1902,. He eventually created one of the most successful restaurant chains in the United States, Frisch's Big Boy.
Frisch always was an entrepreneur. At eight years of age, he began to sell newspapers and worked in his father's restaurant, Frisch's Stag Lunch. The young businessman withdrew from school as a teenager to work full-time in his father's restaurant. He eventually returned to high school, graduating in 1923 at the age of twenty-one years.
In 1923, Frisch's father died, leaving the new graduate to run the restaurant on his own. He continued to do so for the next nine years, before he sold the business to two of his brothers. That same year, Frisch decided to open a new restaurant in Oakley, Ohio, and six years later, he began a second restaurant in Norwood, Ohio, directly across the street from his father's old establishment. Unfortunately for Frisch, he went bankrupt that same year due to the expenses of operating two restaurants.
In 1939, Frisch was back in the restaurant business, managing a restaurant in Fairfax, Ohio, known as the Mainliner. This restaurant was the Cincinnati area's first drive-in restaurant. In 1944, Frisch, with financial backing from Fred Cornuelle, opened a second restaurant.
In 1947, Frisch opened his first Big Boy Restaurant. The previous year, he had met a man named Bob Wian while on a trip to Los Angeles, California. From Wian, Frisch learned about stacking two hamburger patties together. Thus, the Big-Boy hamburger was invented. Frisch's first Big Boy Restaurant was located in Cincinnati, but he eventually opened, per an agreement with Wian, eateries in Kentucky, Indiana, and Florida as well. Frisch eventually franchised out 170 separate restaurants. Despite his success, he continued to bus tables during the lunch hour at one of his restaurants. Frisch believed that this allowed him to stay in touch with his customers. It also helped him realize which products his customers liked and disliked, allowing the restaurateur to make changes to the menu. By the 1960s, Frisch also opened several hotels and some more upscale restaurants.
Now that Frisch had attained great success, he determined to give back to the wider community. During the 1960s, he created the David Frisch Foundation to donate funds to various causes. He died in 1970.