Milton Oscar Lustnauer, Sr. ‘35, Franchise Owner, Investor, Developer

Milton Oscar Lustnauer, Sr. was born on October 2, 1917. He had two brothers, Harold and Al, and a sister Bernice. Harold died at the age of twelve from tuberculosis. His parents immigrated to America from Germany and they settled on a 180-acre farm in Grove City. They grew corn, wheat, straw, and hay. They also raised pigs, cows, and chickens for meat, milk, and eggs, which they sold to grocery stores and farm markets. In addition, they had a large garden and apple and pear trees.

Milt was a good student at West High School and especially liked spelling and drafting. He participated in several activities including: the Decorating Committee, the German Club, Hi-Y, “L” Society, the Orchestra, the Chorus, and was the Chief Draftsman in the Triangle Club. He was the Occident Advertising Manager as well as the Annual Advertising Manager. He also played on the Hi-Y basketball and baseball teams. 

After graduating from West in 1935, he attended the University of Cincinnati receiving his Business Degree and graduating in 1937. His first job was working at a movie theatre, where he met, Olive Jean Thomasson. They fell in love and were married on February 21,1945. Milt’s next job was for Curtis Wright, where he helped assemble planes for World War II. In 1948, Milt and his wife Jean opened the Green Gables Restaurant on the West Side.  In 1953 he bought his first house on South Brinker Avenue (by Westgate Park) where they began raising their four children, Mary, Myra, Marsha, and Milt, Jr.

Milt and Roy Tuggle were the co-founders of BBF – Burger Boy Food-O-Rama, opening their first restaurant in 1961 at the corner of Central Avenue and Mound Street. Inside the company, BBF stood for “Bigger, Better, Faster”. In 1969, BBF expanded to forty-nine restaurants in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. It was at this time that the Borden, Company made a generous offer to purchase, so they accepted the offer and Milt became President of Borden Burger. Two years later Borden wanted to make cutbacks in quality and service, but Milt refused to go along with this business model, and he was soon fired. Thus, Borden Burger closed the remaining BBF restaurants.

While Milt was still at BBF, he helped Governor Jim Rhodes start the “Sale of Champions” at the Ohio State Fair. Many times, he purchased the prize steer for BBF.

Jim Near worked for Milt at BBF before going on to become the chief executive and chairman of Wendy’s. With this connection, Milt became partners with Dave Thomas in the early 1970’s. Milt went on to open several successful Wendy’s franchises in West Virginia and Florida. He also was a franchise owner of Long John Silvers. After five years, he sold the franchises back and retired from the business.

He turned his focus to stocks and land and real estate development. He invested in Magnet locks and stocks. He also invested in a farm on Olentangy River Road as a partner in The Forum Corp. They developed this farm into the now prestigious subdivision called The Retreat. Milt was a former member of the board for Banc Insurance Corp., The Richland Bank, and several other corporations.

Milt was a longtime member and active supporter of the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, Westgate Lodge #623 F&AM, Scottish Rite, and Aladdin Shrine Temple. He was also a strong supporter of Recreation Unlimited, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and 4-H Programs. Milt was a very generous individual. He purchased a polar bear for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and, in honor of his parents, donated an organ to the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church.

In 1995, Milt and Jean celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Suffering from emphysema, Jean passed away on January 3, 1996. Milt cared for her throughout her illness. Sadly, Milt passed away on May 27, 2005.

Surviving are his daughters, Mary Williston, Myra (Terry) Massaro, and Marsha (Tom) Amicon; and son, Milt (Bonnie) Lustnauer, Jr. Ten grandchildren and thirty-five great-grandchildren also survive him.

Dorance Nichols Hornsby, Class of 1963, and Ruth Mider, Class of 1937nominated Milt.