Food That Makes You Smile

Best Burgers |  Statewide Winner and Best of Treasure Valley

The Brown v. Board of Education decision came down. The Chevrolet Bel-Air was the best selling car. A loaf of bread cost about 17 cents. My Aunt Lorita was raising her young family. And the Big Bun Drive-In served up its first burger.

The year? 1954.

That was a different era, but over the last seven decades, one thing remains the same … Big Bun is still serving up delicious food.

Until she passed away last year, Aunt Lorita lived right around the corner from Big Bun. Our family visits often included a hamburger run, something that still brings a smile to our faces at the memory of it. Big Bun was mentioned half a dozen times during her funeral services by a variety of people, simply because she loved it so much.
Big Bun is almost as much of an institution in Boise as potatoes are in Idaho. The classic drive-in restaurant first opened in 1954 in the same location it’s always been, on the corner of Curtis and Overland.

It experienced a fire sometime around its 15th year. So, the gas station on the corner it shared a lot with was converted into the new restaurant. The gas pumps were removed to make way for a double-sided drive-thru. Fortuitously, the two lanes would be a godsend during COVID when drive-up service became our only way of dining out for a time.
Working in restaurants since she was 15, Joyce Kellogg was hired at Big Bun in 2010. A short year later, she recruited her husband, Tyler. Except for a three-year hiatus, the energetic couple has been serving up burgers together ever since.

In fact, they managed the restaurant for much of that time. Their goal was always to own a restaurant of their own, and running Big Bun was their hands-on education. They learned all they could — and 60-hour workweeks were not uncommon, a tall order when you’re also raising a couple of kids!

The Kelloggs’ hard work paid off when, after a five-year buyout plan, they purchased Big Bun in February.

The thing that impresses me most about the Kelloggs is their passion for the community. They love Boise and they love working with local residents. This was obvious to me as the Kelloggs conveyed their gratitude for their employees. (They currently have 38 of them, a large number that took me by surprise. But, most of them are part time.) They are the reason for Big Bun’s continued success, according to the owners. The restaurant is really busy and truly poised for expansion. I saw this with my own eyes on my last visit, as both drive-thrus were humming nonstop.

Then there’s the food. The Kelloggs have simplified the menu over the years, but you’ll still see quite a few “homemade” items including their finger steaks, cheese sticks, corn dogs, and fish and chips.

And you can’t forget about their famous hamburgers. Tyler’s favorite is the ever-popular Big Bun Classic Cheeseburger with grilled ham.

What about Joyce? “Every time I see someone cook up a pastrami burger, my mouth waters and I just want to eat one,” she says with a smile.

From experience, I know what she’s talking about. I’ve personally ordered that burger on one of our Big Bun runs with Aunt Lorita. It is indeed delicious, and it brings a smile to my face too!