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Local Business Feature: Red Knapps

Being almost a decade old, this local gem has remained almost exactly the same since its opening. Red Knapps, located on Downtown Rochester’s Main Street, has remained a local fan favorite for over 70 years. Having been run by the Knapp family since the opening in 1950, the new(ish) owner, Matt Kirschner prides himself on upholding the restaurant traditions.

While the menu has remained consistently the same with minimal changes for years, returning customers tend to get what was originally on the menu in 1950: the Double with Cheese and a classic milkshake. Kirschner has also begun offering vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options! Management believes that the experience of eating at this eatery should absolutely be non-exclusionary. Dietary restrictions sometimes aren't chosen (allergies), and they cater to most dietary needs.

Consider my family and I. I grew up in the area- similar to my father. We've both gone to Red Knapps for our entire lives. Yet, we both do not eat meat. That normally would have excluded my family, yet with new options available, we are able to carry on the tradition of dining every other week.

The founder, Lyle "Red" Knapp, opened the restaurant in 1950, yet worked many other jobs in order to save up for this legendary place. Born on a farm in 1910, he was always passionate about working hard to be successful. in 1926, Knapp came to the Rochester Area, (then known as Avon Township), to find work. For years, he worked settling concrete for Meadowbrook Hall. Ten years after this, in 1936, Knapp bought a strand of buildings in the downtown area. Then in 1950, Lyle Knapp opened the doors of Red Knapp's Dairy Bar. Ever since, the restaurant was family-run until Matt Krischner entered the scene and ran it in Knapp's legacy.

“When I came into the restaurant, I realized that this place has a lot of history and is a tradition in the community. It existed before me, and it will exist long after me’’

Similar to the menu, the interior of the restaurant has remained the exact same- with the exception of touch-ups and upholstery in the furniture. Krischner, since acquiring the restaurant, has amassed a massive Tiktok following. This brings in a large amount of customers from other areas, states, and countries. While one would normally tend to assume that this would be all younger folk- that could not be farther from the truth. People of all ages follow the business’ account religiously, and all proudly show Kirschner when they dine in. When showing him that they follow, customers and his TikTok followers receive a free milkshake.

‘’Other businesses look down on TikTok. It is a newer media so older business owners do not fully comprehend its benefits’’

TikTok has brought massive amounts of success to the restaurant. A local eatery became a worldwide sensation due to its popularity with the unique style of the restaurant.

Part of the restaurant's TikTok fame has to do with the unique challenges that Krischner will do to draw viewers in. For example: he will launch creative campaigns, such as concocting weird food combinations. He did a series where he would combine irregular foods with burgers to create a new type of meal. This series was to draw attention to the restaurant by Gordon Ramsey. For about 55 videos, he combined snack foods with seasoned ground beef in a burger. After 56 videos, Ramsey duetted, singing praises to the establishment. This brought in millions of views towards Red Knapps, including the attention of Guy Fieri and the Detroit Lions.

While Red Knapps may be famous worldwide with its expanding social influence, the restaurant is a necessary pillar in the Rochester community, remaining a foundation for the town. Its unique history and style draw attention and is a remaining tradition to local families.

Yes, Lyle "Red" Knapp was a ginger, and yes, the same family owns the donut shop down the street :)

Sources Used:

Larsen, D. J. (n.d.). Who was Red Knapp?

Rochester, R. (n.d.). Main street stories: Knapp’s Dairy Bar.

Maya Kirksey, in-person interview with Matt Krischner, Oct 19, 2023

Images (in order used):

Lewinski, David "Downtown Rochester". Metro Mode, Nov 18, 2020,

Knapp, Roger "Red Knapp Dairy Pose behind Counter'', Rochester Media, 1953

(n.d.), "Red Knapp's Rochester'', Restaurant Guru, (n.d.)


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