Restaurant founder Bob Evans was born on May 30, 1918, in Sugar Ridge, Ohio. His parents were Stanley L. Evans and Elizabeth Lewis Evans. After Evans married his childhood sweetheart, Jewell, the couple raised their family on a farm near Rio Grande, Ohio.
Evans ventured into the restaurant business in the 1940s, operating a small diner. What made a name for his restaurant was his sausage, produced from his own hogs. Eventually, the Bob Evans name became synonymous with both sausage and country-style restaurants. In the 1960s, the first Bob Evans Restaurant opened its doors in Rio Grande, eventually becoming the first in a chain of restaurants that made up the Bob Evans Farms, Inc. By 2004, the company operated more than five hundred restaurants in the United States, including not only Bob Evans Restaurants but also Owens Restaurants and Mimi's Cafe Restaurants. Bob Evans Farms, Inc.'s sales total more than one billion dollars each year, and the company's stock is traded on the NASDAQ. The company also owns and operates the original Evans farm, known as the Homestead, in Rio Grande. The farm hosts thousands of visitors each year and offers several special events, including an annual quilt show and a bluegrass festival.
Although Evans retired from the company in 1986, he remained actively involved in his community and numerous causes. Evans encouraged local farmers to utilize livestock grazing techniques that are friendlier to the environment and more efficient, and he promoted wildlife preservation. He also used his passion for agriculture to support groups like the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H. He served for a number of years on the Ohio Board of Regents and was instrumental in the founding of the Ohio Appalachian Center for Higher Education in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Evans died from pneumonia on June 21, 2007.
- Murdock, Eugene C. The Buckeye Empire: An Illustrated History of Ohio Enterprise. Northridge, CA: Windsor Publications, 1988.