Saturday, February 22, 2014

Birthday Memories . . .

My brother Blake joined Zoe and me at the mail center for lunch yesterday.  Blake’s birthday is next week, but he has an all-day meeting on the actual day so we celebrated a few days early.  We decided to get takeout from O’Leary’s next door, and Thursday after work I went to Kroger across the street to look for something desserty.  Wandered into the bakery area, and looked at the selection of  little cakes, pieces of cheesecake, and such.

And then I saw them . . .


If you didn’t grow up in my part of the country, this picture means nothing.  But for people in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois (and I think there were a couple in Florida), a birthday cake from Bill Knapp’s was an institution.  Bill Knapp’s was a basic family homestyle restaurant – when I was a kid, I remember thinking it was a place where old people went to eat.  But it seemed we always went there for family birthdays (and we had a large extended family, so we went there a lot) – and at the end of the meal, here came the waitress with a chocolate cake while Bing Crosby sang Happy Birthday.  That cake had a number or two sticking out of the top that corresponded to your age – and each number had a lighted candle on top so you had one or two to blow out.

Those cakes were amazing, at least in my memory – I hadn’t had one since the local Bill Knapp’s closed more than 25 years ago.  So when I saw that display at Kroger, I knew what Blake and I were having for dessert.


And it was wonderful – tasted exactly the same.  I remember back in the day that we occasionally picked one up at Bill Knapp’s to take home for $1.99.  Thursday night at Kroger – $9.99 – and it was worth the cost of inflation.

Happy Birthday, Blake . . .


  1. I remember the Bill Knapp's days here in MI, too. My favorite was the Perch Dinners and the birthday cakes. Wonder if my Kroger's has them???

  2. Oh, yeah, my local Bill Knapp's was the one the used to be right there at Loop and Far Hills...from before Loop Road was there, I believe. My grandparents always took us grandkids there on our birthdays. Thanks for letting me know I should look for those cakes at Kroger!

    1. that was "my" Bill Knapp's, too!

    2. Could you tell us when Knapp's closed on Far Hills? Thanks. Trying to piece together Knapp's history in Dayton.

    3. Has to have been at least fifteen years -- might be more. The last few Bill Knapps closed in 2002. That building has been a dentist's office for quite a while . . .

    4. Thanks. I read that Indian Ripple/Beavercreek was the last Dayton unit to close, in 2001. Far Hills, Salem Ave., and Dayton Mall locations apparently were already closed by then. Exact dates of their demise unclear.

  3. Amazing how taste can bring back wonderful memories, and make new ones.
    thanks for sharing Greg!

  4. You were so lucky that the real thing tasted as good as what was in your memory! I didn't even know Kroeger still had stores around. Nice that you & your brother are still close, and hope your Mom is still doing real well too. Forgot to ask about her when I saw you at Lawrenceville in Feb.