Bavarian Inn matriarch, Dorothy Zehnder, celebrating 99th birthday December 1

Bavarian Inn matriarch, Dorothy Zehnder, celebrating 99th birthday December 1

Wish Dorothy a Happy Birthday!

Bavarian Inn matriarch, Dorothy Zehnder, celebrating 99th birthday December 1Not about to be stopped by the pandemic, Dorothy Zehnder, co-founder of the family-owned Bavarian Inn Restaurant will celebrate her 99th birthday on Tuesday, December 1, 2020. At 99 years young, Dorothy still works 6 days a week in the Bavarian Inn kitchen.

“Dorothy loves people,” says granddaughter Katie Zehnder Weiss. “She loves to cook and bring joy to people with our many menu offerings.”

Fans of Dorothy are invited to send her birthday greetings by email: Dorothy will remain inside the Bavarian Inn kitchen and not greet the public on Dec 1st. Even though their dining rooms are currently closed in accordance with the most recent restrictions, you can still taste Dorothy’s delicious cooking through take-out available 11-7 p.m. daily from the Bake Shop. While there, get some Christmas shopping done in the Castle Shops. Frankenmuth is open for business.

For more than 80 years, Dorothy has been instrumental with the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn and the many operations under that name. The diverse array of businesses includes the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Castle Shops, Bavarian Inn Lodge, River Place Shops, Covered Bridge Shop, Frank’s Muth, Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, a specialty line of food products, and an online store.

A recent Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, Dorothy is also the author of three cookbooks, “Cookies and Bars” published in 1986. “Come Cook with Me,” published in 2011, and the follow-up “From My Kitchen to Yours,” published in 2014. Her most recent cookbook “From My Kitchen to Yours” is available for purchase at the online store at and are filled with stories about Dorothy, cooking, her family and the German-themed restaurant they created.

Dorothy, growing up on a farm in nearby Reese, Michigan, founded the Bavarian Inn with her late husband, William “Tiny” Zehnder. At full employment the Bavarian Inn Corporation has approximately 1,000 employees, serves thousands of people in a day and approximately 900,000 meals annually, and ranks in the top 50 largest family-run restaurants in the USA. Dorothy’s children and their spouses, along with her grandchildren – a total of 9 family members – work alongside her every day to continue the success story of the Bavarian Inn.

Despite Michigan’s struggles with COVID-19 this year, the Bavarian Inn has held its own, working hard to stay focused on meeting guidelines and protocols for health safety while also maintaining its role as one of Frankenmuth’s leading businesses.

While the restaurant and travel industries continue to experience challenges, the Bavarian Inn remains an icon for the community and the State of Michigan, just like Dorothy Zehnder herself.

Bavarian Inn matriarch, Dorothy Zehnder, celebrating 99th birthday December 1

Celebrating over 130 years of service, 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, striving to serve more Michigan-grown and produced foods and Michigan-produced beverages than any other restaurant. The Bavarian Inn Restaurant ranks #50 out of the top 100 independent restaurants in the USA and is the top rated restaurant in all of Michigan. Nestled within the 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 Restaurant. Learn more at

Bavarian Inn Restaurant online press room:

Nestled along the Cass River in Frankenmuth is one of the state’s largest indoor water park hotels. The Lodge has 360 European-themed guest rooms, including whirlpool and family suites, an adult-only pool and whirlpool, two gift shops, two lounges and two restaurants — all under one roof. The expansive 35,000 square foot Family Fun Center houses two thrilling water slides, three pools and two whirlpools, over 160 video and redemption games, a two-level children’s play village and Willy’s Kingdom indoor mini-golf course. Guests can also enjoy live, nightly entertainment year-round and test their own musical skills during weekend family karaoke shows. In over 30 years of business, the Bavarian Inn Lodge has been an important destination for travelers, evidenced by the 1.25 million room-nights that have been booked there since its opening, along with its top rating on TripAdvisor.  Learn more at

Bavarian Inn Lodge online press room: