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Dorothy Zehnder Bio

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Dorothy Zehnder Wins MTLA Award

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Dorothy Zehnder, Bavarian Inn matriarch, celebrates 95th birthday December 1

dorothyandsugar

Six days a week, serving thousands of patrons, at one of Midwest’s top tourist destinations

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. – Nov. 28, 2016 – With no retirement plans in sight, Dorothy Zehnder, co-founder of the family-owned Bavarian Inn Restaurant will celebrate her 95th birthday on Thursday, December 1 doing what she enjoys the most – working in the kitchen of one of the nation’s largest and most successful independent restaurants.

“I like working,” she says. “I like to cook, and I like people. What else is there that I would like better?”

The petite and lively matriarch doesn’t look much like a modern CEO, but don’t be fooled. Over the years, Dorothy has been involved with all the family’s business operations, all located in Frankenmuth – Michigan’s Little Bavaria. In addition to the restaurant, they include Bavarian Inn Lodge, Castle Shops, River Place Shops, Covered Bridge & Leather Gift Shop, Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, a specialty line of food products, and online store.

She’s also the author of two cookbooks, “Come Cook with Me,” published in 2011, and the follow-up “From My Kitchen to Yours,” published in 2014. Both cookbooks are available for purchase at the online store at www.bavarianinn.com and are filled with stories about Dorothy, cooking, her family and the German-themed restaurant they created.

Dorothy, who was born in nearby Reese, Michigan, founded the restaurant with her late husband, William “Tiny” Zehnder, after Tiny’s family purchased the former Fischer’s Hotel in 1950. At that time, the Zehnders and their 12 employees served about 50 people a day. Today, the Bavarian Inn Restaurant has 450 employees, serves thousands of people a day in 12 dining rooms and annually ranks among the country’s largest family-run restaurants. 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 economic struggles over the years, the Bavarian Inn has held its own. While the restaurant and travel industries continue to experience challenges, the Bavarian Inn is remaining profitable.

Today, Dorothy’s main mission is to oversee quality control in the kitchen – making sure the mashed potatoes are whipped to perfection, and that the entrees, like the Bavarian Inn’s famous Frankenmuth® Chicken, meet her high standards before heading to the dining room.

How, Dorothy is often asked, does she manage to maintain such a healthy and active lifestyle in her mid-90’s?

“I tell them that I eat a lot of chicken,” she replies, laughing.

 

About Bavarian Inn

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.

Bavarian Inn online press room: http://logos-communications.com/bavarianinn/

 

Bavarian Inn Lodge

Nestled along the Cass River in one of Michigan’s top tourist destinations – 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 feet Family Fun Center houses two dramatic waterslides, three pools and two whirlpools, over 150 video and redemption games, a two-story children’s play village and Willy’s Kingdom indoor mini-golf course. Guests can also enjoy live, year-round, nightly entertainment and test their own musical skills during weekend family karaoke shows. In 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 www.bavarianinn.com.

 

 

Turning 94, Dorothy Zehnder Might Be America’s Most Senior Hospitality Leader
Bavarian Inn Matriarch Still Oversees Bavarian Inn Operations

DorothyZehnderphoto

• Works nearly every day at Bavarian Inn Restaurant
• Still involved in the Frankenmuth community
• Works with nine other family members across the corporation

FRANKENMUTH, MI – Dec. 1, 2015 – 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.

 

 

Bavarian Inn Matriarch Still Stirs the Kettle As She Turns 93
Dorothy Zehnder Oversees Bavarian Inn Operations
 Works almost every day at Bavarian Inn Restaurant
• Released 2nd cookbook this year featuring 195 recipes
• Works with 9 other family members across corporation

Dorothy Zehnder photo

Frankenmuth, MI – Nov. 20, 2014 – While many people her age are coping with the limitations of their advancing years, Dorothy Zehnder is still going strong, working in the kitchen of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant almost every day as she celebrates her 93rd birthday, December 1.  Born and raised in Reese, Michigan, this dynamo is not only in charge of one of the nation’s largest independent restaurants, she also still oversees the family’s business operations with help from her children and grandchildren.

Dorothy began working as a young waitress at what was then Fischer’s Hotel in the 1940s.  Just a few years later in 1950, she and late husband Tiny Zehnder and his family bought the restaurant, changed its name and began as the new managers. In time, Dorothy developed the complete lunch and dinner menus the Bavarian Inn still serves today.  What is an average day like for Dorothy?  She says there’s nothing she doesn’t do:  food preparation, ordering, quality control, cleanliness, production systems, developing new menu items, promotion and marketing.

In addition, she authored a very personal tome in 2011, “Come Cook With Me,” a collection of recipes, wisdom, photos and stories from her years at the helm of the Bavarian Inn.  Earlier this year, she released a new book, “From My Kitchen to Yours,” that features 195 hand-picked family-favorite recipes from her vast 1,000-plus personal collection. This newest edition contains more recipes, kitchen tips and memories from both her family life and the restaurant.  Both publications were completed while she continued her daily duties at the restaurant.

According to Dorothy, the Frankenmuth “All you care to eat family-style chicken dinners” originated at Fischer’s Hotel. Today’s Bavarian Inn chicken is a variation of those early dinners. 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 evidenced in the nearly 350 tons of chicken served each year at the restaurant.

Like its predecessor, “From My Kitchen to Yours” contains a number of Bavarian Inn signature recipes that have never been published before. Priced at $24.99, the cookbook is available at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Castle Shops, Bavarian Inn Lodge, online or by phone. Anyone interested in ordering “From My Kitchen to Yours,” can call 1-800-BAVARIA or 989-652-9941, extension 3332 or order online at http://onlinestore.bavarianinn.com/

Bavarian Inn’s ‘From My Kitchen to Yours’ Now Available

Matriarch Dorothy Zehnder to Personally Sign New Cookbook, Sept. 6 and 13

Frankenmuth, MI – Sept. 2, 2014 – In a much-anticipated reprise of her successful 2011 “Come Cook With Me” collection of recipes, wisdom, and stories comes Bavarian Inn 92-year-old matriarch Dorothy Zehnder’s newest tome, “From My Kitchen to Yours.”  Featuring 195 hand-picked, family-favorite recipes from her vast 1,000-plus personal collection, this 196-page edition features more recipes, kitchen tips and memories from both her home and the restaurant.

Like its predecessor, the newest publication contains a number of Bavarian Inn signature recipes that have not been revealed before. The cookbook is now on sale to the public, and can be purchased in person at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, Bavarian Inn Lodge, ordered online or by phone. Dorothy will be on hand in person with food samples for a book signing on the lower level of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant from 2-3 p.m., Saturday, September 6 and 13.

Coincidentally, the book launch ties in perfectly with the restaurant’s annual celebration of September as National Chicken Month. In addition to picking up a copy of “From My Kitchen to Yours,” Bavarian Inn guests will also have the opportunity throughout the entire month to savor one of the more than 30 delicious chicken dishes, like the Chicken Breast Imperial and Cordon Bleu offered in its main dining room as well as several new offerings in its Michigan on Main Bar and Grill.

According to lore, the first Frankenmuth “All you can eat family-style chicken dinners” were first served at Fischer’s Hotel, the precursor of today’s Bavarian Inn. Today’s chicken is a variation of the dinners first served by Fischer’s. Ever the perfectionist, Dorothy’s late husband Tiny began experimenting with the recipe, eventually changing from the original pan-fried heavy hens to the lightly breaded, fried smaller birds served today. The success of Tiny’s experiment is evidenced in the nearly 350 tons of chicken served each year at the Restaurant.

Anyone interested in ordering “From My Kitchen to Yours,” can call 1-800-BAVARIA or 989-652-9941, extension 3332 or order online at http://onlinestore.bavarianinn.com.

Ready for seconds?
Bavarian Inn matriarch serving up new cookbook
Pre-orders being accepted for new title: “From My Kitchen to Yours”

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. – August 4, 2014 – What’s cooking these days at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant? This new treat isn’t on the menu, but it comes directly from the Inn’s founder, Dorothy Zehnder, who has just published her newest cookbook, “From My Kitchen to Yours,” arriving at the Inn and online this September.

It’s a much-anticipated reprise. Dorothy’s cookbook, “Come Cook With Me,” was produced in 2011, and featured an 80-year collection of recipes, wisdom, and stories from her own kitchen and proved so popular that Dorothy is back at it again.

Now at age 92, Dorothy has again selected for “From My Kitchen to Yours” a new and tasty variety of 195 family-favorite recipes from her vast 1,000-plus personal collection. This newest 196-page edition features more stories, kitchen tips, recipes, stories from home and the restaurant, and memories from Dorothy’s family members, blending together this new tribute to family, friends, and food.

Like the previous edition, “From My Kitchen to Yours” contains several of the Bavarian Inn’s signature recipes that have not been revealed before in any publication.

Readers will also learn about Dorothy’s own recipe for success. Taking a word from her very own pages, Dorothy shares her begeistern (German for done with passion or enthusiasm). As she says, “That’s how I approach each new day at home or in the kitchen.”

Dorothy has been in the Bavarian Inn’s kitchen since day one – more than 60 years ago. And that’s where you’ll still find her six days and up to 60 hours a week.

Pre-orders for “From My Kitchen to Yours” are now being accepted. This cookbook sells for $24.99 regular price. Members of the Bavarian Inn Perks Club may pre-order the book at a special discount price of $19.99 now through August. To pre-order, call 1-800-BAVARIA or 989-652-9941, extension 3332, or pre-order online at http://onlinestore.bavarianinn.com. Interested in learning more about the Perks Club? Go to www.bavarianinn.com and click on the “Perks Club” tab.