Bob Evans, founder of the sausage company and restaurant chain that bear his name, died June 21, 2007, from complications of pneumonia at age 89.
According to the Bob Evans website, Evans often said his empire was founded on the tastes of truckers. After World War II, Evans worked for the family meat-packing company, but in 1946 he opened the Terminal Steak House, a 12-seat, 24-hour restaurant next to a trucking terminal in Gallipolis, Ohio. The restaurant, soon renamed the Bob Evans Steak House, was an immediate hit with truckers, particularly the breakfasts, Bob’s secret-recipe sausage and Jewell Evans’ pies. Bob Evans said the truckers did all his marketing research; if they liked an item, it stayed on the menu.
Today Bob Evans Farms Inc. owns 579 Bob Evans restaurants in 18 states and distributes Bob Evans sausage to grocery stores nationwide. An annual event at the Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande, Ohio, near the West Virginia border, is a big-truck display each June.