Turning 94, Dorothy Zehnder Might Be America's Most Senior Hospitality Leader

Bavarian Inn Matriarch Still Oversees Bavarian Inn Operations

· Works nearly every day at Bavarian Inn Restaurant

· Still involved in the Frankenmuth community

· Works with nine other family members across the corporation

Dec 01, 2015, 09:08 ET from Bavarian Inn Restaurant

FRANKENMUTH, Mich., Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Although there may be no official way to prove it, odds are that the Bavarian Inn's beloved Dorothy Zehnder may be at least Michigan's – if not the country's – most senior hospitality leader. While many people her age have long since retired, Zehnder is still going strong, spearheading one of the nation's largest independent restaurants and working in the kitchen of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant almost every day as she celebrates her 94th birthday on December 1.  With family and friends poised to celebrate the occasion, well wishers from anywhere can send their greetings this year via a special email address: events@bavarianinn.com.

As a teenager, Dorothy actually started working before World War II at what would become the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. A few years later, she and husband William "Tiny" Zehnder became restaurant managers when Tiny's family bought the then Fischer Hotel and eventually changed it to the iconic Bavarian Inn. At a time when working outside the home was rare for women, Dorothy ran the Inn's kitchen and developed the lunch and dinner menus still served today.

According to Dorothy, the Frankenmuth "all you care to eat family-style chicken dinners" originated at Fischer's. Today's Bavarian Inn chicken is a variation. Ever the perfectionist, Dorothy's late husband Tiny began experimenting with the recipe, eventually changing from the original pan-fried hens to the lightly breaded, fried smaller birds that are served today. The success of Tiny's experiment is evident in the nearly 350 tons of chicken served each year at the restaurant.

On a daily basis, Dorothy still oversees food preparation, ordering, quality control, cleanliness, production systems, developing new menu items, promotion and marketing with help from her children and grandchildren. Many area young people learned – and are still learning – from Dorothy at their first job. Her style of motivation is her own hard-work ethic, showing how and why every step needs to be done well, all the while underscoring the importance of family and of treating Frankenmuth visitors as guests.

Along the way, Dorothy has also found the time to author two books:

  • "Come Cook With Me," (2011), a collection of recipes, wisdom, photos and stories from her years at the helm of the Bavarian Inn.  
  • "From My Kitchen to Yours," (2014), an intermingling of 195 hand-picked family-favorite recipes, kitchen tips and memories from both her family life and the restaurant. 

When it comes to promoting her home state, its people, businesses and the tourism industry, Dorothy Zehnder heads a family long dedicated to helping both the local and state economies. Her achievements in the field of hospitality have helped launch Frankenmuth as a top Michigan tourist destination. Her support of inventive business and marketing techniques coupled with her strong mettle continue to inspire those who still have the opportunity to work with her.

About Bavarian Inn Restaurant
Celebrating 125 years of service in 2013, 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.

Press Room: http://www.logos-communications.com/bavarianinn/

CONTACT: Sue Voyles                                                            


SOURCE Bavarian Inn Restaurant