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Personal recollection: Growing up in Southfield, my family used to go to Bill Knapps near 10 Mile and Evergreen for years. It was a good spot to hit after church. The last time I was there with her many years ago I could see the place wasn't doing too well business-wise. I will use this post to collect information on all of the Michigan Bill Knapp's. I went through Bobby Peacock's list and grabbed all of the street view photos I could based on what is left.
Bill Knapp's was an American family restaurant chain. It was founded by Clinton B. Knapp (March 13, 1907 – October 15, 1974), in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1948. The chain operated in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Indiana, with more than 60 locations at its peak.
Bill Knapp's featured a menu primarily filled with typical family dining items. The menu included a limited breakfast, sandwiches, baskets, and luncheon and dinner plates. A children's menu, featuring meals named for animals, was also offered. Recipes for their fried chicken, bean soup, ham croquettes, vegetable soup, onion rings, au gratin potatoes, and chocolate cakes (later purchased by Awrey Bakeries) were also featured. Locations replenished inventory on a daily basis from the commissary in Battle Creek, Mich. with their own fleet of trucks. Bill Knapp placed great emphasis on the quality and freshness of the food, with added emphasis on preparing the food "from scratch."
The chain changed hands in 1998 and the new management tried to overhaul the image of the restaurants and cater to a younger clientele. This alienated the older demographic who were the core customers of the chain. They tried to go back to the original concept in 2001 but it was too late. The chain filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and closed down. The name lives on as one of the Awrey Baker heirs purchased the rights and sells baked goods under the Bill Knapp's moniker.