Dorothy Zehnder and Bavarian Inn Honored at Great Lakes Bay Regional Business Event

State of Michigan Pays Tribute to Bavarian Inn Matriarch and 125-Year-Old Property

FRANKENMUTH, MI (June 26, 2013) – Dorothy Zehnder, co-owner and co-founder of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, was honored yesterday by the State of Michigan at the Great Lakes Bay Regional Business After Hours event for her leadership of the property, which has been a Michigan mainstay for 125 years.

“We are proud to recognize Dorothy Zehnder and the 125th anniversary of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and add our voice of thanks for the many ways in which Dorothy and the Bavarian Inn Restaurant have impacted not only their local community, but also the entire state of Michigan,” said Bill Rustem, Director of Strategy for Governor Rick Snyder, as he presented Zehnder with the special tribute. “Although the Bavarian Inn Restaurant is well known for its delicious home-style cooking and charming European atmosphere, its service, hard work and love of family are perhaps the most significant ingredients in this successful family operation.”

The 91-year-old Zehnder was humbled and appreciative of the recognition the state bestowed upon her. “The state government has been extremely supportive of the Bavarian Inn during the years in which we have been in business, so it is extremely gratifying to have them acknowledge the hospitality our family has attempted to offer the state’s residents and visitors who visit our restaurant and lodge each and every year.”

The Bavarian Inn Restaurant started in 1888 originally as a boarding house, serving delicious meals to its guests, including their famously recognized chicken dinners. Today the restaurant seats 1,200 guests and serves over 600,000 meals every year. The restaurant has only been owned by two families and is now in its 4th generation of management by the Zehnder family.

The Great Lakes Bay Regional Business After Hours is an annual networking event for the members of the Chambers of Commerce of Bay, Midland, Mount Pleasant and Saginaw, which facilitates communication between business professionals from throughout the region. For 2013, the Frankenmuth and Flint Chambers also supported the event, which was hosted by the Bavarian Inn, a fitting location to honor Zehnder and her family’s longstanding establishment.

About Bavarian Inn
Celebrating 125 years of service this year, 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

About Dorothy Zehnder
Dorothy Zehnder’s journey with the Bavarian Inn Restaurant began in 1937 where she started waiting tables at the then-named Fischer’s restaurant. From there she and her husband William “Tiny” were appointed managers when the William Zehnder Sr. family purchased the restaurant in 1950. Even amidst tumultuous economic times, Dorothy and Tiny went forward with plans of expansion and updates to the restaurant, including changing the name and architecture to pay homage to its German roots. Dorothy has since been an active participant not only within the restaurant itself, but also her community, taking part in numerous restaurant, governmental, tourism, philanthropic and religious endeavors. Even at the age of 91, Dorothy continues to play a major role in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. Of course, Dorothy’s role at the restaurant isn’t all work and no play, as evidenced in her starring role in a “Harlem Shake” video that recently went viral on Facebook. Dorothy has also received numerous awards throughout her 75 years in business, including her recent acceptance of MLive’s “13 Michiganders to Watch in 2013” and the successful publishing of her cookbook, “Come Cook with Me.”