Biz Beat

New burger joint in downtown Modesto has more than 50 years of history behind it

Apple pie may get the glory when talking about all-American food, but it’s hard to deny the red-white-and-blue appeal of biting into a big, juicy burger.

It’s a simple formula the folks at the new Bob’s Giant Burgers have known for decades. The small family-owned Bay Area chain has been open since 1963. The burger joint is named after its founder, Bob Jacobs, and his daughters continue to carry on its tradition with two remaining restaurants. The newest opened this week in downtown Modesto in the Shops at Lincoln School shopping center on H Street.

The location puts the restaurant in the newly revived center which also saw the recent opening of the new Smart & Final Extra!

“We’re family and have been around for 55 years serving the same product we served back in 1963,” said Modesto Bob’s Giant Burgers owner Sue Booke. “This was always my dad’s dream and that’s why I carried it on.”

As the name would suggest, burgers are the main attraction at Bob’s Giant Burgers. And they are indeed large, over a quarter-pound each and piled high with lettuce, tomato, onion and other fixings. Booke uses the same Bay Area meat and bun distributors the family had been using for decades. The original Bob’s was a walk-up burger stand with outdoor-only seating. It was open continuously over more than five decades until just earlier this year when it closed.

The location was purchased to make way for a residential development, so Booke took the money from the sale and invested it into her Modesto shop. She has been living here the past 10 years, since her father died in 2007.

The downtown eatery features a ’50s diner feel with sheet metal siding, red-and-white booths and a long counter with a dozen bar stools perfect for a quick lunch. Along with its signature burgers — which come in single or double — the menu includes fish and chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese, hot dogs and chili dogs and sausage sandwiches. On the side get fries, garlic fries or onion rings and wash that all down with a handmade milkshake with real ice cream the old-fashioned way.

Her sister runs the other remaining Bob’s Giant Burgers in Pleasanton, which has been open since 1974. At one time the family had five Bob’s Giant Burgers in the Bay Area. Booke said she plans to keep the new Modesto shop in the family. Her granddaughter, who lives with her in Modesto, will run the new shop as its general manager.

So how will Bob’s Giant Burgers fare in Modesto? Well, I wouldn’t bet against it. This is a restaurant that has fought off none other than Bob’s Big Boy – yes, the restaurant with the Big Boy statues – which tried unsuccessfully to get them to change their name years ago.

Bob’s Giant Burger is open now for lunch and dinner from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information call 209-284-0748 or visit

Marijke Rowland: 209-578-2284, @marijkerowland