Bob Evans: down on the farm
Last Updated on November 5, 2019
Bob Evans family-style restaurants focus on serving quality meals in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Owned by Golden Gate Capital, the Bob Evans chain has 495 locations, primarily in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States.
Robert (Bob) Lewis Evans was born in 1918 and lived to be 89 years of age. In 1948, at the at of 30, Evans began making sausage on his Ohio farm.
Wanting to be nearer to relatives, the Evans family moved to Gallia County, Ohio, when bob was 11 years old, and they finally settled in Gallipolis, Ohio. While his father managed the family grocery store, young Evans attended public schools in Gallipolis and graduated with honours from the Greenbrier Military school in Lewisburg, West Virginia. From 1937 to 1939 he attended the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Evans married Jewell Waters in June 1940 and a few years later the newlyweds moved to Gallipolis, where he bought a restaurant named the Malt Shop. In 1943 Evans was inducted into the Army and he sold his interest in the restaurant to a friend.
In 1948, Evans owned a 12-stool diner in Gallipolis, Ohio, and wanted to serve his customers the most delicious sausages possible. He just wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the sausages he was buying, so, he raised his own hogs and made the sausages himself.
With rave reviews from his customers, Evans decided to go into the sausage business. By 1953, the demand for Evans’ sausages was so great that a group of family and friends became business partners, establishing Bob Evans Farms.
The business was incorporated in 1953 as Bob Evans Farms, Inc. As the demand for his sausages grew exponentially, the company opened four sausage plants in 1957 to keep up with the incoming orders.
Local restaurants weren’t willing to buy Evans’ sausage, so he opened his own restaurant on his farm in 1962. By the early 1970s, the restaurants had expanded throughout Ohio with expansion into other states beginning in the late 1970s. As of 2019, Bob Evans Farms, has 479 restaurants in 19 states.
In 1963, Bob Evans Farms Inc. was listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, with Evans serving as a director and president of the company until he retired on December 31, 1986.
Farm Festival attracts thousands of visitors
Every year since 1971, Farm Festival has been held during the second full week of October. Located on the farm in the Rio Grande where Bob Evans and his family once lived, Farm Festival attracts thousands of visitors. The farm has evolved into a tourist playground that features camping, hiking, concerts and other special events throughout the year. The largest event is the Bob Evans Farm Festival, which features crafts, antiques, demonstrations and entertainment.
About Bob Evans
After his retirement from the company in 1986, Evans remained active in his community. He encouraged local farmers to use more efficient livestock grazing techniques that are suited to environmental sustainability.
His love of wildlife led him through 40 years of preserving it and, in fact, he was honoured three times by the National Wildlife Federation. He also supported youth organizations such as 4-H and FFA. He worked with college students at Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He supported many community organizations, including the Heart Fund, Ohio Society for the Prevention of Blindness, Arthritis Foundation and Easter Seals.
The Bob Evans Farm
The Farm was the home of Bob and Jewell Evans for almost 20 years. Today it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the home of the Homestead Museum that highlights the life of Bob Evans and his company. Bob and Jewell Evans purchased the Niamiah Woods farm from Rio Grande College in 1952.
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