Happy 90th birthday to Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant

June 12, 2024, 7:13 PM · Ninety years ago this week, a family business in Southern California took its first step toward creating a trend-setting, world-famous theme park.

On June 13, 1934 - 14 years after Walter Knott opened a berry farm in Buena Park - his wife Cordelia Knott expanded their family business by selling 65-cent fried chicken dinners on her wedding china. It was the first day of business for what is now Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant - a Southern California dining icon.

1939 Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant
The restaurant in around 1939. Photos courtesy Knotts Berry Farm

As the restaurant became more popular and the lines of waiting diners grew, Walter decided to provide them entertainment. His Ghost Town added more attractions over the years, eventually growing into the Knott's Berry Farm theme park we know today.

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant
The restaurant today.

During that time, Knott's introduced several innovations that became industry standards, including the first after-hours, hard-ticket Halloween event - Halloween Haunt (now Knott's Scary Farm) in 1973. A decade later, Knott's opened Camp Snoopy, the first theme park, single-franchise-themed area dedicated entirely to children's attractions.

But it all started with a berry farm... and then a fried chicken restaurant. Without Mrs. Knott's decision to sell those dinners, it's entirely possible that Knott's would never have amounted to more than a roadside produce stand, long ago forgotten and sold off to real estate developers. So thank you to Mrs. Knott and her fried chicken for allowing us to have the Knott's Berry Farm theme park today.

To celebrate the anniversary, the restaurant is offering a variety of special meals throughout the year. On select weekends through September 2, the restaurant is offering a Berry Family Breakfast event from 8-11am. On June 18, June 25, July 2, and July 9, diners ages 65+ can enjoy a Early Bird Senior Buffet Dinner from 3-5pm. For more information and reservations, visit the Knott's website.

Coming up, on Fridays to Sundays from 12am to 3am starting September 20, Knott's Scary Farm guests can stop at the restaurant on their way out of the park for a Midnight Breakfast Buffet, which will include a commemorative Scary Farm T-shirt. Check back for more details on that.

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Replies (1)

June 13, 2024 at 9:56 AM

Definitely a rite of passage for any theme park fan visiting the SoCal area (as much as eating at Blue Bayou). The food is very good and reasonably priced, especially when compared to other theme park restaurants around the world and particularly those in the LA/Anaheim area. Some might stick their nose up at the homestyle fare, similar to what you might find at a Cracker Barrel, but in our travels, only our lunch at Miss Mary Bobo's last winter (part of the Jack Daniels campus in Lynchburg, TN) has come close to Mrs. Knott's in terms of quality and authenticity.

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