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Bill Knapp's Restaurant

Bill Knapp was a traveling salesman in Cleveland, Ohio, who loved to cook. Since he traveled constantly, he was always on the lookout for a good place to eat and he had an idea for a new type of restaurant chain. In 1947, he moved his family to Battle Creek, Michigan where he took a job with Shaefer Bakeries. In the evenings at home, he began developing dishes for his new restaurant, and in 1948 he and four local investors pooled their funds and brought his idea into existence. The first Bill Knapp's Restaurant opened in 1948 on Southwest Capital near Columbia in Battle Creek and was a hit. Soon opening a second Bill Knapp's Restaurant at 34 W. Jackson Street downtown, by 1955 he had three restaurants in Battle Creek and new ones in Lansing and Kalamazoo. By the time he retired in the 1990s, there were 69 Bill Knapp's Restaurants in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Florida. In the ensuing years, Knapp's was slow in changing with the times. The chain realized it in the late 1990s, and tried to change its image, but it was too late. The makeover itself caused a further loss of its core customers, of which many were retirees. The chain closed its doors in 2002.

It's my understanding that Bill Knapp's Restaurants operated on the commissary model. That is, most dishes were prepared at a central location, such as Battle Creek, Michigan, and then delivered to the local restaurants, where the food was finished or reheated before serving. This being the case, the actual recipes and methods were known by the commissary employees, but the local restaurant employees knew little about the recipes. In the case of their soups, many were homemade, but I read that some, such as Tomato and Cream of Mushroom, were actually canned soups made by Heinz.

There is Facebook page devoted to Bill Knapp's Restaurants, with a few recipes, at:
I Remember Bill Knapp's

The only recipes from Bill Knapp's that I have been able to locate are here:

There are a lot of Bill Knapp's copycat recipes in the Taste of Home Forum. See:
Bill Knapp's Recipes: biscuits, honey ginger chicken, au gratin potatoes, chocolate cake, apple-cranberry salad, broccoli quiche, bean soup, teriyaki chicken, orange - nut bread, meat loaf, chicken marinade , vegetable beef soup, squash side dish, pumpkin pie, key lime pie, cole slaw, carrot souffle

I have not been able to find these:

  • Broiled Scrod
  • California Mushroom Salad
  • Chicken Fricassee
  • Chicken and Biscuits
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
  • Clam Chowder
  • Cornbread Toaster Tops
  • Custard Pie
  • French Dressing
  • Ham Croquettes
  • Linguini with Marinara Sauce & Garlic Bread
  • Orange Chicken
  • Potato Salad
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Seared Sea Scallops
  • Tuna Salad
  • White Cake Recipe


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