STOCKBRIDGE, Wis. (WFRV) – Change is never easy, so when longtime customers got wind that the Gobbler’s Knob Supper Club was up for sale less than a year ago, they worried what would happen to the gathering spot so many have known for so long.
But longtime customer-turned-owner Cindy Hakkert insisted “The Knob,” as locals affectionately call it, would never lose its friendly and cozy atmosphere or name.
During a recent visit, Local 5 News discovered that the Wednesday night all-you-can-eat chicken and fish special gets the Gobbler’s Knob hopping a full hour before the kitchen opens.
Spend a little time at the bar, and you’ll watch it quickly fill up with people and lively conversation.
The new owner is tending the bar. Cindy Hakkert took over after 16 years as a CNA in hospice care.
“So, my husband and I were just looking for something else to do. A different opportunity,” Hakkert explained. “I needed a new job and needed to find something I could manage. We came in here for supper and asked if it was still for sale.”
She says they came back many times and just hung out.
“We paid attention, ate the food, and slowly figured out this is something I could handle,” added Hakkert.
The first time Local 5 News met Cindy was while she was training with the previous owner Brian Levknecht whose family owned The Knob for three generations.
As documented in books and said to me directly by Brian, it was his father’s uncle who came up with the name. It was fulfilling a promise made to a World War II buddy who always talked about the Gobbler’s Knob bar back home in Indiana.
“The bullets were flying over their heads,” Levknecht began. “His buddy said to him, ‘if I get out of this bunker alive, I’m going over the hill to the Gobbler’s Knob to have the coldest beer.'”
They both made it out.
“His buddy went back to Indiana, and he came back here. Opened a bar and called it Gobbler’s Knob because they got out safe,” explained Levknecht.
With a name containing that much history, Hakkert said she never considered changing it or taking away some of the unique offerings they’re known for.
“Not many places have frog legs available on the menu,” Hakkert noted. “That was another thing when I was a kid. We ate frog legs all the time.”
And yes, old-timers, the after-dinner cocktail called the “Duck Fart” is also served after supper.
Although Hakkert prides herself on bringing in new servers with some high-end and hand-crafted ideas drinks to go along with the standard old-fashioned cocktails and ice cream drinks.
She also brought back the salad bar, which features three kinds of lettuce, dozens of homemade toppings, and handmade soups of the day.
It’s a lot of work and sometimes a gamble with a dining room capacity of 50, but it is well worth the effort, given the positive customer feedback.
Like many supper clubs, The Knob is facing some staffing challenges. As a result, Hakkert relies on her son Alex to help her in the kitchen.
“I do have a full-time job, so it’s not that I need the income,” said Chef Alexander Hakkert. “It’s more helping out the family and keeping this a supper club because this community really enjoys coming here.”
The Knob has managed to weather the transition with an air of optimism that customers appreciate and support.
“Just a little place we like it, just small and cozy,” said Johanna Bonlander of Chilton.
“When you come here, you’re friends,” added Barb Bittner of Stockbridge. “They know your name, they call you out by name, and it’s just a lot of fun.”
It looks like The Gobbler’s Knob will always be the place where the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Gobbler’s Knob is located at 101 North Military Road, intersecting with West Lake Street in Stockbridge. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday. The bar opens at 4 p.m., ahead of the kitchen opening so you have plenty of time to look over the menu over a cocktail and conversation.