Bavarian Inn Matriarch Wins Outstanding Achievement in Tourism Award

Dorothy Zehnder Honored by Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association

Dorothy was honored April 15, 2013, at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. The “Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner & Collaboration Awards,” was sponsored by Experience Grand Rapids, Grand Rapid’s official convention and visitor planning site (

“Being able to continue to contribute to the tourism industry in our great state is truly a blessing,” said Dorothy. “Not many folks can say that at my age. Bavarian Inn is a fourth-generation family business, which is also rare. Service, hospitality and hard work is in our blood. I appreciate this honor, and know it would not be possible without our team members and valued guests.”

Dorothy has been called a living legend, the First Lady of Hospitality and the embodiment of Pure Michigan at the core. She and her family are celebrating the 125th year of continuous operation at Bavarian Inn Restaurant this year, which has become one of the oldest and largest eateries in the country.

Dorothy began waiting tables in 1937 when the restaurant was Fischer’s Hotel. The Bavarian Inn is much more than the “family style” chicken dinners that made it famous. Today the restaurant seats 1,200 guests in 12 dining rooms and serves more than 600,000 meals annually.

During Dorothy’s 90th birthday celebration in 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said, “Dorothy’s work ethic has been an inspiration to several generations of workers.” Her uncompromising mettle and business acumen has made her a renowned civic leader, educator and mentor. That same year, she authored and published “Come Cook with Me,” a collection of recipes, wisdom and classic stories. As for retirement, Dorothy admits that is nowhere on the horizon.

The Bavarian Inn Restaurant is a Michigan landmark. Generations of diners, lodgers and tourists from around the globe have discovered true Bavarian hospitality and old-world European charm – 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 trip to Frankenmuth would not be complete without a visit to the Bavarian Inn, Castle Shops, Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, Covered Bridge & Leather Gift Shop, Frankenmuth River Place Shops, and the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge. Learn more at

The Michigan Lodging & Tourism Association was formed in 1905 and while it has undergone a variety of name changes, it has always been the only statewide trade association representing Michigan’s lodging and tourism industries. MLTA represents hundreds of hotels, motels, resorts, and bed & breakfasts, comprising over 40,000 guest rooms. MLTA membership also includes categories for allied/suppliers, convention and visitor bureaus, colleges and universities, students, attractions and transportation operators. Headquartered in Lansing, the MLTA provides a full range of association services. To learn more about the event, visit For more on MLTA, visit