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Posted on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

Zeeb Road Big Boy's new owners bring 35 years of experience, Mediterranean additions to menu

By Paula Gardner


Brothers Andy, Abdul and Fred Karkouli, from left, now own the Zeeb Road Big Boy outside Ann Arbor. With them is manager Nicole Orfin.

Angela J. Cesere |

Three brothers with 35 years in the restaurant business are the new franchise owners of the Big Boy restaurant on Zeeb Road west of Ann Arbor. The location — just north of I-94 in Scio Township — had been a Big Boy corporate store since 2009, when the Warren-based company took it over following disputes with the former franchisee. This month, Fred Karkouli and his brother bought the franchise, and they’ve spent the last three weeks taking their initial steps to build the business. They also own a Big Boy in Rochester Hills.

“It’s the number 1 Big Boy,” Karkouli said. The trio started to pursue the franchise early this year, said Nicole Orfin, an assistant manager who moved with the Karkoulis from the Oakland County store to the Scio Township location.


The salad bar now features such Mediterranean dishes as tabbouleh and hummus.

Angela J. Cesere |

They’d been looking to expand, and decided that the area — close to the highway and west of Ann Arbor’s population center — made it a good bet. The restaurant had been a high-volume store, but the new team sees room to rebuild traffic. They also plan some changes, such as additions to the salad bar. “We’ve redone the entire salad bar,” Orfin said. One highlight that’s unique to the Karkoulis: Homemade Mediterranean dishes, such as hummus and tabbouleh. The soup bar will include traditional Big Boy favorites like cabbage soup and cream of broccoli, with the addition of Syrian chicken noodle and vegetarian lentil. They’re not dishes typically found at a Big Boy, but Orfin said the corporate headquarters has supported the change because of their success with customers. “They allow us some flexibility because of our previous track record,” she said.

The restaurant is located at 497 North Zeeb Road, west of Ann Arbor.

Angela J. Cesere |

However, she added: “We still have all of the classic Big Boy items.” Other changes include expanding the weekend breakfast buffet and adding a children’s buffet on Tuesday, when kids 10 and under can get their choices for a meal along with dessert and a drink for $5.99. Staffing is about 30, with most employees retained. “We asked everyone to stay on with us,” Orfin said. “We have brought a few new people on board.” Customers won’t see many other changes, Orfin said. The building is in good condition and it represents the chain’s newer look. The only goal for the new owners, Karkoukli said, is to build repeat traffic through customer service, new specials and quality food. “We’re just hoping to make it into a stronger (Big Boy),” Orfin said.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.


Melissa Ochoa

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 12:14 a.m.

I will never go to this restaurant again. There have been 3 different occasions where they did not include everything in my carry out. They sure didn't forget to take my money though! The final straw was last night. Again, they forgot items. Equivalent to a whole breakfast. This time I called them only to hear the Manager in the background say, "Tell her were closed!" I was just there. The proper thing would have been to rectify the issue immediately. You failed miserably. I wish I could say this was a singular incident. It was not. I wouldn't waste my time or money patronizing their "restaurant".


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

@Belgium...Yes, I'd love to see a Bob Evans and a Culvers on this side of town, or maybe even a Skyline Chili!!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 11:33 p.m.

Variety? Yes, Big Boy, McDonalds, Burger King, Arbys, Taco Bell, Wendy's, Penara, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Domino's. Really, is there anything else one could want to eat on the west side?


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

Metzger's?! Come on, the food is practically inedible there.

Bob Bethune

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

Banfield's Westside. Metzger's German. Creekside. Classic Cup Cafe. Carlyle. Mancino's. Zingerman's Roadhouse. Yes, there are lots of chain and fast-food restaurants in that area, but pretending the local ones don't existl does no one any favors.

Rod Johnson

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 11:51 p.m.

There are some places. Creekside is good. The Coney Island is surprisingly good. Metzger's is OK if you like that sort of thing. Mancino's, Carson's. Some people like Weber's. But yeah, west of Maple is kind of a food desert.

Bertha Venation

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

This is good. It will be nice to have some variety out in our area.