Big Boy is returning to Heath.

Big Boy is returning to Heath.

Cincinnati-based Frisch's Big Boy has purchased the site of the former Howard Johnson hotel at 775 Hebron Road, next to the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, and is expected to open a restaurant there as early as December.

John Groff, chief of Heath's division of building and zoning, said the new building likely would be constructed in August at a cost of about $1.5-million.

Frisch's was a Heath mainstay for decades, having served area residents at its location on the east side of Hebron Road, just north of the pending location. Then owner Skip Salome operated the restaurant as Skip's Family Restaurant before closing for good a few years ago.

"We had a Frisch's Big Boy for years here, and it was torn down to make way for the Walgreen store years ago," Groff said. "It was a fantastic restaurant and everyone, including myself, loves that style of food."

Karen Maier, Frisch's vice president of marketing, said construction is expected to begin Aug. 9 and that the restaurants usually take about 120 days to complete.

"We're looking forward to being open in early December," she said, adding that it's been about eight years since Frisch's had a franchise there. "We think it's still a very good market."

Heath has seen many restaurants come and go. The current Leghorns restaurant once was a Bob Evans, which moved to the former Fulton Middle School site, as did its neighbor, Taco Bell. For years, Perkins occupied the little house-shaped building attached to the former Value City store. Ponderosa, across the street from the coming Frisch's closed recently, and numerous eateries have occupied part of the current Holiday Inn. Heath also has many of the usual chains, such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Skyline Chili, Chipotle and the usual fast-food joints, in addition to the longstanding all-you-can-eat diner, which has been a Stacy's Homestyle Buffet for several years.

Miller's Essenplatz also bit into the Heath market, opening a location inside Indian Mound Mall in November 2009. Asian and Indian fare also are beginning to take hold there.

Groff said restaurants in Heath all have heavy patronage and that he expects Frisch's Big Boy to have as many customers as the others.

"When the old one was open, it was a great place to go for dessert and breakfast, so we hope the new one will be as well," Groff said. "The general population loves that type of stuff. I will be eating there as soon as it opens."