Locals will soon again enjoy “Hub Cap Tenderloins,” “Bee Bopp’in BLTs,” “Giant Hound Dogs” and more at a staple restaurant making its return to Bargersville this fall.

The Knuckle Sandwich will be reopening at a new location on State Road 135 and Whiteland Road in Bargersville as early as Nov. 1 this year. The owners of the 50s and 60s-themed diner leased space at the new Duke Commercial South Grove Commons, in the newly-built building next to Our Table Family Restaurant.

Owners Brent and Linda Plunkett are feeling excited to reopen their doors after two years of being closed and a year and a half of looking for a new location, they said.

The original Knuckle Sandwich building, which was in an old Dairy Queen at the intersection of Huggin Hollow Road and State Road 144 near the county line, was forced to close at the end of August 2020 to make room for the Interstate 69 expansion to Indianapolis. It was one of 81 commercial properties that were taken by the state via eminent domain to complete the final stretch of I-69 through Johnson, Morgan and Marion counties.

State 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 had yet to pay them for their property.

They eventually received their compensation after the delays and were able to move on to finding a new location. However, they lost a battle to keep their commercial kitchen hoods, freezer and cooler from the old restaurant.

Documents and statements they had received from the Indiana Department of Transportation emphasized that the agency was there to support business and homeowners in the eminent domain process and the state would help them find a new location. But the Plunketts said that did not happen for them.

“I mean, they said at the start, they were there to help us, help us get relocated to help do this, do that. You know, there wasn’t any of that,” Brent Plunkett said.

The Plunketts then spent the next year looking for a new location in Bargersville to bring back their restaurant. Last fall, they got in contact with Mike Duke, owner of Duke Homes and Duke Commercial, who said he was constructing a new commercial building at the South Grove Commons location.

They signed a lease in April, and are now awaiting interior building permits and preparing to move in.

Much of their previous equipment and decorations they kept in storage for the last two years, and orders are already made on other equipment needed.

The Knuckle Sandwich is known for paying homage to 50s and 60s diners, with several themed decorations, from red vintage diner chairs to pictures of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe hanging on the walls. They will be upping that theming with several new decorations at this location, Brent Plunkett said.

“I don’t want to put out there what we’re gonna have yet. I want people to be kind of surprised when they come here and see it,” Brent Plunkett said.

As for food, pretty much all of the original menu will be returning, with full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus available. Tenderloin, chili dogs, burgers, BLTs and pizza with regular, Sicilian and gluten-free crust will be options for customers to enjoy.

The Burger Challenge is also returning for those up for it. The challenge is to finish all of 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 the restaurant plans to charge a 4% fee for credit or debit card users. This will help alleviate the $3,000 expense the owners were paying each month to accept credit cards, Brent Plunkett said. With the cost of supplies and food generally going up from inflation, they need to find ways to save, and the Plunketts want to try to avoid raising their food prices on customers.

“We’re not trying to get rich off of it. But we’re trying to make a living and keep our prices down for people,” he said.

The Knuckle Sandwich announced its return this week on its Facebook page, 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’re both getting a little excited,” he said. “You know, now that things are moving and things are starting to take shape because there’s been a lot of people we’ve heard from (about the restaurant).”