Bill Knapp's was an American family restaurant chain which, at its peak, had more than 60 locations in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Indiana.
Clinton B. "Bill" Knapp founded the chain in 1948 on Capital Avenue in Battle Creek, MI, after deciding that he could provide simple, quality food to the public with friendly service and good prices. Three commissaries delivered fresh food made “from scratch” to each restaurant in order to maintain the quality and consistency of the food.
Between 1948 and 2002, Bill Knapp’s was an institution. Many locations were right off major highway exits and were convenient meeting places for families and friends throughout the Midwest. It was common to see several generations eating together at long tables pushed together.
The menu featured customer favorites such as fried chicken, ham croquettes, chicken fricassee and biscuits, steakburgers, fish-in-a-basket, Michigan bean soup, onion rings, and delicious potatoes au gratin served in individual crockery bowls. There was also a children’s menu with meals named for animals, such as the “Giraffe” and the “Zebra.”.
Among the most popular traditions at Bill Knapp’s were the “celebration cakes,” 6-inch round white or chocolate cakes that were presented free on birthdays. Another was that any customer who visited on his or her birthday received a discount equal to his or her age, making it a favorite place for seniors.
Another treat was the takeout bakery section near the checkout counter where customers could take home some of their favorite desserts.
Cost-cutting measures in the late 1990s would eventually result in abandoning the commissary model in favor of buying the food locally for each restaurant and substituting packaged soups, macaroni and cheese and other prepared items for the home-made versions.
Unable to keep up with changing tastes and continue its made-from-scratch recipes proved fatal for Bill Knapp’s, and it closed its last restaurant in 2002.
Do you miss Bill Knapp’s? Which restaurants you would love to see make a comeback?
#TBT #ThrowbackThursday #Michigan #BattleCreek #BillKnapps #BillKnappsCake #Food #Restaurants #Ohio #Florida #Illinois #Indiana #OldRestaurants
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