A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“Give me all your money or you’re geography!” (bank robbery joke) (6/24)
“A tragedy is a ship full of bankers sinking. A catastrophe is when they can all swim” (6/24)
“You said you had between ten and fifteen million dollars in the bank” (joke) (6/24)
“Cell phones keep getting thinner and smarter…people the opposite” (6/24)
“Before you diagnose yourself with depression, first make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes” (6/24)
More new entries...

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Entry from June 17, 2017
Bill Johnson’s Big Apple restaurants

Bill Johnson’s Big Apple bar-b-que restaurant opened at 3757 East Van Buren in Phoenix, Arizona in December 1956. The “Big Apple” name supposedly came from 1937’s Big Apple dance. Bill Johnson was a radio personality who died in 1966.

There were three Bill Johnson’s Big Apple restaurants, but all closed by 2015. The restaurants were known for their ribs and deep dish apple pie. Slogans included “Let’s eat” and “We don’t fool you, we feed you!”


BillJohnsons.com (archived from November 26, 2011)
Arizona’s Original Steakhouse
THE LEGEND OF BILL JOHNSON
World-Famous BBQ, a great atmosphere, incredible staff, and five locations didn’t just happen over night. It started in the heart and mind of Bill Johnson, one of Arizona’s original showmen.

One of the country’s original ‘Shock-Jocks’, ol’ Bill was a real cowboy who ran a rebel radio show right out of a makeshift jail-cell in his original Van Buren restaurant. Bill would ramble on to the people of Arizona almost every night until Midnight, and people would come from all around to dine and witness his broadcast. (Listen to a few of his shows by clicking the links on the right!!)

A huge favorite with local Arizonans, road-weary travelers and visiting celebrities, the show was eventually broadcast by KPHO, KRIZ, KTAR and KJJJ, all while being programmed, directed and engineered by Bill himself right out of the restaurant.

20 November 1956, The Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), pg. 49, col. 3 classified ad:
Apply at:
BILL JOHNSON’S BIG APPLE
BAR-B-QUE
3757 East Van Buren in Person.

Modern Times Magazine
The Bill Johnsons
Big Apple Family Feud

Restaurant Group Ends Up In Bankruptcy Court As The Future Of A Valley Fixture For More Than 50 Years Hangs In The Balance
By John Guzzon
Feb. 23, 2012 — When news started dribbling out late last year that the Bill Johnsons Big Apple Restaurants were heading to bankruptcy court, most longtime Valley residents decried the potential loss of yet another Arizona landmark that would fall silently into the history books.

Phoenix (AZ) New Times
Bill Johnson’s Big Apple Hopes to Endure Contentious Times
BY ROBRT L. PELA
THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2012 AT 4 A.M.
It’s hard to miss: a giant, neon-trimmed steer’s head, towering over Van Buren Street and slugged with the goofball legend, “Let’s Eat!”
Bill Johnson’s Big Apple is one of only a few notable restaurants that have stuck around long enough to become part of our town’s history (see main story for more).The Big Apple — which refers not to New York City, but to the late Bill Johnson’s favorite dance craze — is a Western-themed joint that tells a truly Phoenix story, all about cowboys and country music and, just lately, a showdown among members of an Old West family. One can’t help wondering whether all this acrimony — and news of an “updated” menu — won’t make the hometown appeal of Bill Johnson’s Big Apple beside the point.
(...)
Bill died in 1966.

AZCentral
Bill Johnson’s Big Apple in north Phoenix closes
Jennifer McClellan , The Republic | azcentral.com Published 11:35 a.m. MT May 19, 2014 | Updated 11:38 a.m. MT May 19, 2014
And then there were two.

Bill Johnson’s Big Apple Restaurant has closed the branch at 19th Avenue and Bell Road in north Phoenix. The original location on Van Buren Street near 40th Street in Phoenix and the Mesa branch near Main Street and Stapley Drive remain open.

The Western-themed steak-house chain is nearly 60 years old, and has had financial troubles over the last several years. Phoenix-based Bill Johnson’s Restaurants Inc. filed a Chapter 11 reorganization plan in November 2012 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Phoenix (AZ) New Times
Only Remaining Location of Bill Johnson’s Big Apple to Close and Become a Parking Lot
FRIDAY, JANUARY 23, 2015 AT 11:37 A.M
(...)
Bill Johnson, a cowboy/radio personality/stuntman/actor, opened the original restaurant in 1956 and used to broadcast his radio show from inside the dining room. He would feature famous guests such as Wayne Newton, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings. Johnson passed away in 1966.

16 December 2015, The Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), “10 Valley restaurants we said goodbye to in 2015” by Jennifer McClellan, pg. D1:
Bill Johnson’s
Big Apple

Bill Johnson’s original location, on Van Buren Street in Phoenix, was the last to close. It served its final steak, fish fry and salad with cinnamon French dressing in May. Financial troubles plagued this homegrown restaurant chain. The nearly 60-year-old company filed a Chapter 11 reorganization plan in November 2012 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. It introduced new menus and prices, but they didn’t make a big enough impact.

27 December 2015, The Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), “10 business stories that shaped the state in 2015” by Kathy Tulumello, pg. E1:
Bill Johnson’s Big Apple restaurant at 3757 E. Van Buren St. shut its doors in May after 59 years in operation.

(Trademark)
Word Mark BILL JOHNSON’S BIG APPLE
Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 042. US 100. G & S: RESTAURANT SERVICES. FIRST USE: 19561128. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19561128
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 03.07.01 - Cattle; Oxen, cows, calves, bulls; Steers
03.07.03 - Heads of oxen, cows, calves, bulls
Serial Number 72442472
Filing Date November 30, 1972
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0989754
Registration Date July 30, 1974
Owner (REGISTRANT) BILL JOHNSON’S RESTAURANTS CORPORATION ARIZONA 2906 W, FAIRMONT PHOENIX ARIZONA 85017
Attorney of Record FRANK J. MCGUE
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20040520.
Renewal 2ND RENEWAL 20040520
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Cancellation Date June 11, 2015

(Trademark)
Word Mark BILL JOHNSON’S BIG APPLE LETS EAT
Goods and Services IC 042. US 100. G & S: RESTAURANT SERVICES. FIRST USE: 19561128. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19561128
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 03.07.01 - Cattle; Oxen, cows, calves, bulls; Steers
03.07.03 - Heads of oxen, cows, calves, bulls
09.01.13 - Braids; Clotheslines; Rope; Shoe laces; String; Tightropes
26.11.09 - Rectangles made of geometric figures, objects, humans, plants or animals
27.03.05 - Objects forming letters or numerals
Serial Number 73718105
Filing Date March 21, 1988
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition December 13, 1988
Registration Number 1528952
Registration Date March 7, 1989
Owner (REGISTRANT) BILL JOHNSON’S RESTAURANTS, INC. CORPORATION ARIZONA 2906 W. Fairmount PHOENIX ARIZONA 85017
Attorney of Record Frank J. McGue
Description of Mark THE LINING IN THE MARK ON THE DRAWING DOES NOT INDICATE COLOR. THE STIPPLING IN THE MARK ON THE DRAWING IS FOR SHADING PURPOSES ONLY.
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20080728.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20080728
Other Data "BILL JOHNSON” IS NOT THE NAME OF A PARTICULAR LIVING INDIVIDUAL.
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • Saturday, June 17, 2017 • Permalink