I never met Bob Evans, but I’ve written about him–not him, exactly, but his restaurants. You can’t be the Calendar Events editor and the Restaurant Guide editor at Ohio Magazine without mentioning Bob Evans restaurants at least once a month. When those were my jobs, the magazine ran “The Best ” restaurants type article. Bob Evans received the top number of nominations for one of the catagories even though it wasn’t eligible. The contest rules stated “no chains.” Ohioans are relentless when it comes to hearty, comfort food, and the ballots for Bob poured in.
Bob Evans died yesterday at age 89 leaving quite the legacy. Ted Strickland, the governor of Ohio even made a statement about Bob’s impact on more than the Midwest gastric experience. Bob’s is a story of how loving one place, his farm in southeastern Ohio grew into a mighty business that served folks passing through. Originally, he sold meals and sausage to truckers after WW II. These days, you can barely pass a major highway exit in Ohio and in several other states without seeing a Bob Evans sign. There are 579 restaurants in all.
While I don’t frequent Bob Evans restaurants often, I can’t remember the last time I ate at one, I always associate them with the joy of breakfast on a road trip. The last one I went to was on I-70 between Wheeling, West Virginia and Columbus. I can picture the biscuits and that bottomless cup of coffee.
Besides going to a restaurant, you can also get the Bob Evans down home experience at the Bob Evans Farm where Bob lived with his family for 20 years. The family farm has been turned into a museum and craft store, plus it still functions as a farm, although none of the animals here will end up on a breakfast table. From April to December the farm is open to tourists. Click here for the activities calendar. One day, I’ll make it here. It’s been on my places to go with the kids list for years.
In the meantime I may head on over to the closest restaurant to my house (about two miles) and have a biscuit and think of Bob. One of my friends who worked at Ohio Magazine with me suggested all the writers who’ve had a Bob connection in any way should have a gathering in his honor. We’re thinking about it. He’s given us all something to write about.