Locals will soon be enjoying “Hub Cap Tenderloins,” “Bee Bopp’in BLTs,” “Giant Hound Dogs” and more at a staple diner returning to Bargersville this fall.
The Knuckle Sandwich will reopen as early as November 1 of this year at a new location at 135 State Road and Whiteland Road in Bargersville. The owners of the 50s and 60s themed restaurant rented space in the new Duke Commercial South Grove Commons, in the newly constructed building adjacent to Our Table Family Restaurant.
Owners Brent and Linda Plunkett are delighted to reopen their doors after being closed for two years and looking for a new location for a year and a half, they said.
The original Knuckle Sandwich building, which was located in an old Dairy Queen at the intersection of Huggin Hollow Road and State Road 144 near the county line, was forced to close in late August 2020 to make room for the Interstate 69 extension to Indianapolis. It was one of 81 commercial properties taken by the state through eminent domain to complete the last stretch of I-69 through Johnson, Morgan and Marion counties.
Government agencies involved in the process were not helpful at all, Brent Plunkett said, and what he called a lack of transparency contributed to a complicated journey for the owners to get their compensation for land. When they handed over their keys in September 2020, the state still had to pay them for their property.
Finally, after the delays, they received their compensation and were able to continue their search for a new location. However, they lost a battle to keep their commercial kitchen hoods, freezer and cooler out of the old restaurant.
Documents and statements they received from the Indiana Department of Transportation emphasized that the agency was there to support businesses and homeowners in the eminent domain process and that the state would assist them in finding a new location. But the Plunketts said that didn’t happen for them.
“I mean, they said in the beginning, they were there to help us, to help us move to do this, to do that. You know, there wasn’t,” Brent Plunkett said.
The Plunketts then looked for a new location in Bargersville the following year to bring back their restaurant. Last fall, they got in touch with Mike Duke, owner of Duke Homes and Duke Commercial, who said he was building a new commercial building at the South Grove Commons location.
They signed a lease in April and are now awaiting building permits for the interior and preparing to move in.
They have kept much of their previous gear and decorations in storage for the past two years and orders have already been placed for other needed gear.
The Knuckle Sandwich is known for paying tribute to diners from the 50s and 60s, with a variety of themed decorations, from red vintage dinner chairs to pictures of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe hanging on the walls. They will heighten that theme in this location with several new decorations, said Brent Plunkett.
“I don’t want to reveal what we’re going to have just yet. I want people to be a little surprised when they come here and see it,” said Brent Plunkett.
As for food, pretty much the entire original menu will return, with full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Tenderloin, chili dogs, burgers, BLTs, and pizza with plain, Sicilian, and gluten-free crust are options for customers to enjoy.
The Burger Challenge also returns for those who want it. The challenge is to eat all two fully dressed one pound burgers and two pounds of fries in 45 minutes. Finishers receive the meal for free, a t-shirt, a trophy and they get their photo on the Wall of Fame.
One change coming is that the restaurant plans to charge a 4% surcharge for credit or debit card users. This will help alleviate the $3,000 fee owners paid each month to accept credit cards, Brent Plunkett said. With the cost of supplies and food generally rising due to inflation, they must find ways to save, and the Plunketts want to try and avoid raising their food prices for customers.
“We’re not trying to get rich from it. But we’re trying to make a living and keep our prices low for people,” he said.
The Knuckle Sandwich announced its return on its Facebook page this week, and the post was met with overwhelming excitement from people ready to come back. Brent Plunkett said he hopes the restaurant’s return will add another option to the small number of restaurants in Bargersville.
“We both get a little excited,” he said. “You know, now that things are moving and things are starting to take shape, because we’ve heard from a lot of people (about the restaurant).”