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Bavarian Inn Restaurant celebrates 130 years of dining hospitality

02-05-2018 04:21 PM CET | Tourism, Cars, Traffic

Press release from: Bavarian Inn Restaurant

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. Feb. 5, 2018 - Beginning this month and continuing throughout 2018, the Bavarian Inn Restaurant will be celebrating its 130th anniversary as a continuing business and dining favorite of hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Special menus and events are being planned over the next several months to mark the historic occasion, according to Bavarian Inn Marketing Manager Mandy Borsenik. Both regular patrons and those planning weekend getaways or vacations in Michigan are invited to follow the restaurant’s social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for news about upcoming anniversary events.
The Bavarian Inn Restaurant was founded as the Union House Hotel in February,1888 by German immigrant Theodore Fischer and renamed "Fischer’s Hotel." His family continued the business for the next two generations. It was Theodore’s son, Herman and wife, Lydia, who are credited with first promoting "Frankenmuth all-you-can-eat family style chicken dinners." The couple passed their popular Fischer’s Hotel to their son, Elmer, in 1941.

The William & Emilie (Bickel) Zehnder, Sr. Family has been operating Zehnder’s Restaurant since 1928. Their son William Jr, whom everyone called "Tiny", worked as a farmer. He would stop at Fischer’s to pick up garbage to feed the hogs on his farm. He inquired about the possibility of the Zehnder family purchasing Fischer’s. The sale to the Zehnder family was finalized February 9, 1950.

Tiny left farming, and he and his young wife, Dorothy (a former waitress at Fischer’s) became the managers of the new business. Almost immediately, they modernized the kitchen, installed dishwashing equipment, built a laundry, and improved and expanded the building design.

The expansion gave the restaurant a new viable focus, one that instilled ethnic pride. The new addition boasted an authentic Bavarian exterior-stucco walls, woodcarving, flower boxes and other German accents were blended with the new German entrees served by "Bavarian" costumed servers. A weeklong celebration with German entertainment was held in 1959, which today is known as the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival.

Almost non-stop remodeling and expansion continued, transforming the interior and exterior of the building to match the Bavarian theme. In 1967, the stunning 50-foot Glockenspiel was added, topped with a 35-bell carillon. It became an instant Bavarian Inn landmark with its revolving figures that depict the legend of the Pied Piper of Hameln.

Dorothy Zehnder has been in this building since 1937, when she worked as a waitress at Fischer’s. She continues to work six days a week at 95 plus years of age. Since purchasing the restaurant in 1950, she has routinely worked alongside family and team members. She has personally developed many of the recipes used in the restaurant and has taught thousands of employees the correct method to prepare all the food that is served in the 12 dining rooms that seat 1,200 guests.

Three generations of the Zehnder family are actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. Dorothy is joined by son William A. (Bill), President, his wife, Karen and daughter, Amy Zehnder Grossi, Co-General Managers. Another daughter of Bill and Karen’s, Katie Zehnder, is also a Manager at Frankenmuth River Place Shops. Tiny & Dorothy’s daughter, Judy Zehnder Keller, is President of the Bavarian Inn Lodge. Judy’s son, Michael Zehnder, has joined her as General Manager at the Lodge and her husband, Don Keller, is the Corporate Treasurer. Judy and Don also have one other child involved in the family business – Martha Zehnder Kaczynski who is Vice President of Sales & Marketing at the Bavarian Inn Lodge.

About Bavarian Inn
Celebrating 130 years of service in 2018, the Bavarian Inn Restaurant has become a Michigan landmark. Generations of diners, lodgers and tourists from around the globe have discovered true Bavarian hospitality thanks to Dorothy and her late husband William "Tiny" Zehnder. Guests experience the old-world European charm of the Bavarian Inn – whether it’s the famous chicken dinners, fresh baked goods or Michigan’s greatest selection of German beer. Bavarian Inn also prides itself on being one of the top consumers of Pure Michigan agricultural products. Nestled within a backdrop of authentic German architecture, a variety of shops and other fun activities, a trip to Frankenmuth would not be complete without a visit to the Bavarian Inn. Learn more at www.bavarianinn.com.
Bavarian Inn online press room: http://www.logos-communications.com/bavarianinn/

713 S. Main Street
Frankenmuth, MI

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