Zehnder's is a large restaurant in Frankenmuth, Michigan. It has seating for 1,500 people and features all-you-can-eat family-style chicken dinners, seafood, steaks, fresh baked goods and European desserts. Every year Zehnder's serves almost a million people. In the 1980s, it was one of the ten largest restaurants in the United States.
The food is generally American or midwestern-style food, served family style. The restaurant is known for its all-you-can-eat chicken dinners, a tradition that began before the Zehnder family acquired it.
Zehnder's was originally built as the Exchange Hotel by Henry Reichle in 1856. Reichle ran the hotel for twenty years, after which it was sold and operated by several different people. In 1927, William Zehnder, Sr. purchased the hotel remodeling the building, including redesigning the front of the building to look like Mount Vernon. After World War II, the business grew rapidly.
In March 1947, the business was turned over to Zehnder's children. The business became a corporation, and in the 1950s the Zehnder's bought Fischer's Hotel located across the street, renaming it the Bavarian Inn in 1959. In 1955, William Zehnder, Jr. (manager of the Bavarian Inn) and Edwin Zehnder (manager of Zehnder's Restaurant) purchased the interests of Zehnder's, Inc. from their brothers and sister. They re-decorated the restaurant in a Bavarian theme after visiting Bavaria on vacation, and the annual Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival began during their week-long grand re-opening celebration.
In 1984, Zehnder's and the Bavarian Inn became separate corporations with friendly competition between relatives.
John Zehnder, the executive chef and food and beverage manager at Zehnder's, received the 2011 Hermann G. Rusch Chef's Achievement Award from the American Culinary Federation.
In 2007, Zehnder's ranked as the eighth largest restaurant in the United States based on total sales, with a total annual patronage of approximately a million people.
- "Zehnders website". 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
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