KENDALLVILLE — Brandi Lewis wants to make you some really great gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
That’s really how Knight and Day first got started when she first jumped into the food truck game as a stepping stone to a restaurant.
Now, she’ll admit that there was a lot more to running a truck than just the desire to make food, but ultimately that never dampened the calling to give people a really great bite of food.
With lessons learned, a lot of patience and that passion to cook, Lewis is launching into summer with her Knight and Day Sandwich Pub in the Cornerstone Plaza center at U.S. 6 and S.R. 3 North.
The restaurant has technically been open since January but somewhat inconsistently due to not just normal growing pains of a new small business but also a variety of building issues that have popped up and been fixed since.
Located at 838 Lima Road — the former Crazy Horse II in the northeast corner of the complex that includes CVS Pharmacy — patrons stepping inside will get an instant homey feel of not just the style of dining tables and chairs and the wooden bar at the front of the restaurant, but also the eclectic decor of primitives and other repurposed crafts you’d see paired with down-home cooking.
The journey to restaurant started with a food truck, which people may have run across in the pre-pandemic times at some local events and festivals.
“We started out as a food truck and I had always wanted a restaurant,” Lewis said. “This is the direction I wanted to go in and in order to be able to be successful here I needed something everyone could recognize first. So I figured, the food truck, I’ll get it going, I’ll serve some really good food and then when I open my restaurant people will say ‘That makes sense.’”
The food trucking days turned out to be a little more complicated than maybe she expected going in, Lewis acknowledges. COVID-19 and the kibosh it put on food truck events certainly didn’t make things easier, but when the opportunity came in 2020 in the heart of the pandemic to make a run at a fixed location, Lewis “jumped with both feet.”
“The 10-year plan turned into a one-year plan,” she said.
It took about six months of renovation work to get the restaurant to where she wanted and although it opened in January, there have been some stops and starts along the way, including an almost-fire, floods and some serious floor work that have thrown some wrenches in.
Now heading into summer, there’s still some work to be done like getting some signage up on the shop and at out at U.S. 6, but the goal is to build that consistency week in and week out.
How to do that? Well, Lewis wants people to settle in and feel comfortable sitting down for a meal, but then maybe push people’s boundaries into the uncomfortable a bit with some unique takes on familiar foods.
Gourmet grilled cheeses tops the menu with offerings like the bourbon BBQ pork and apples; smoked chicken and blue cheese, cheddar and bacon jam; and the “Taste of Summer” with chicken, spinach, strawberries, bacon and balsamic.
The menu includes some other types of sandwiches, wraps and salads as well as some baskets including a hot honey chicken and waffles.
There’s a fine line between offering customers what they’re used to and pushing their limits a bit, so Lewis says she tries to walk a fine line and wants to convince people to try new things.
“We want an atmosphere where you come in and feel comfortable where they’re here for a half an hour or two hours,” Lewis said. “I’ve tried to take things that people are a little bit familiar with and turn it into something I like. I like sauces and flavors and trying to see what works, even more so I like people trying new things and liking it.”
Knight and Day is currently open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with a 5-8 p.m. carryout only time on Mondays. Lewis says a short breakfast/brunch might be in the works on Sundays in the future, but they’re not quite there yet.
Opening an eatery in a pandemic time has been a daunting experience, Lewis said, but the Kendallville community has always been so supportive of her it’s why she’s made the city the forever home for her and her four children and hopes to contribute in any way possible.
If community groups ever need a place to meet or if Knight and Day can help out in any way, Lewis wants people to get in touch because she wants to contribute.
“The support from the community is what made me decide to stay a resident of Kendallville. I never in my life thought I would want to stay here let alone say this is where I plan on spending the rest of my life. The community here has been amazing, I wouldn’t be where I’m at without them,” Lewis said. “It’s made something that’s been very terrifying a lot easier to deal with.”