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Bill Knapp's Restaurant

Are there any former Bill Knapp's kitchen employees out there? If so, please help us out.

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. However, Knapps'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.

There are scans of Bill Knapp's menus on the web. See:
Original Menu Circa 1965
Dessert Menu Circa 1965
Children's Menu Circa 1965
Later Menu, Probably 90's

There appears to be an official Bill Knapp's website where you can buy the cookies, cakes, donuts, rolls, etc at: Bill Knapp'

Awrey's bakery uses the original recipe for Bill Knapp's Celebration Cake at: Awrey's Bakery - Bill Knapp's Celebration Cake

There are a couple of Facebook pages devoted to Bill Knapp's Restaurants, with a few recipes, at:
Bring Back Bill Knapp's Facebook Page and
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
  • Custard Pie
  • French Dressing
  • Ham Croquettes
  • Orange Chicken
  • Potato Salad
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Seared Sea Scallops
  • Tuna Salad
  • White Cake Recipe

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