Hey, Knucklehead!

The Short Course

Kid friendly: Yes.
To avoid wait: Arriving before 6pm or after 7:30pm may be best.
Noise level: Moderate.
Bathroom amenities: Changing station.
High chairs? Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes.
Allergies? The staff is trained in the kitchen and all fryers are gluten free. Soy oil is used. Always alert your server in advance.

When was the last time you’ve meandered over the river and through the woods to Grand Rapids, Ohio? Or perhaps I should ask not when, but rather, have you ever been there? It had been a while since we had paid the quaint town a visit, so we decided to take a trip back. There’s just something about the small-town charm that we love.

A bustling place

We headed to Grand Rapids, Ohio on a Sunday evening, expecting to find a sleepy downtown, but instead discovered many other families out and enjoying the river, towpath, playground, and restaurants. “It’s a bustling little town nowadays,” said Knuckleheads’ owner Dylan Bass.

A family ‘term of endearment’

The owner of Knucklehead’s, Dylan Bass, was born and raised in Toledo. He served our country overseas and lived in Philadelphia for many years where he owned a franchise restaurant. “I like the pace of working in the food industry,” Bass explains. And, after being away from family for years, he returned to his roots. I asked how his restaurant’s name was chosen. Bass chuckled and said that it was a name everyone in his family called one another. Yes, ‘knucklehead’ is a term of endearment in the Bass family.

Knucklehead’s Kafe outside

The historical building that Knucklehead’s calls home is on the west end of downtown. Mr. Bass said they spent two years renovating the building before the eatery opened in April, 2015. The décor has a southwestern flair, as do a few menu items. Bass relates that his family traveled a lot to the Southwest when he was young, so the theme seemed fitting. The added touch of partially plastered walls with exposed brick, and a ceiling with exposed wood, complete the comfortable décor.

“Simple American food with a twist”

That is how Dylan describes Knucklehead’s menu. Originally, they had 12 items on the menu, but as the staff continues experimenting in the kitchen, new items continue to appear on the menu. They have a great selection of burgers, sandwiches, salads and appetizers. Their homemade mac-n-cheese comes in several variations, and my son really enjoyed it. A couple of us opted for fries on the side, which Bass refers to as “fair fries”, fresh cut and served with vinegar for a tasty touch. A spicy burger and a tequila lime chicken sandwich were also selected at our table. The black bean burger was a surprise. With the consistency of black bean mashed potatoes, there was really no burger shape or conformity. The flavor was good, but my daughter ate the interesting presentation with a fork.

Knucklehead’s Kafe black bean burger

Knucklehead’s is a family-friendly restaurant, and they offer options for little ones such as grilled cheese, sliders, or mac n cheese along with fries, broccoli or fruit as a side. Drinks, including milk, are included…all for just five bucks. According to Bass, their BBQ beef is very popular, as is their pork chop dinner with apple bourbon glaze. Another huge draw is their Wednesday night ½ slab of ribs with two sides for $15.

Karen Zickes is a mom of three active kids and a freelance writer who resides in Holland.

Bottom Line:

Grand Rapids, Ohio is just a hop and a skip from T-town. Your family will enjoy the quaint downtown while spending time along the Maumee River and the canal. Enjoy a bite at Knucklehead’s where you’ll find a variety of flavorful options as well as a friendly wait staff.

Knucklehead’s Kafe
24208 Front St. Grand Rapids 43522
Tue-Wed: 11a.m.-9p.m.
Thur-Sat: 11a.m.-10p.m.
Sun: 11a.m.-9p.m.
Closed Monday

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