Volume 41

Nature & Recreation I: The Bavarian Inn

An Incredible History Of Family Love Of Giving Frankenmuth, Michigan Something Special To Be Proud


  • BavarianInn

The story of The Bavarian Inn begins in 1888 when the Fischer family opened a hotel and restaurant along the Cass River in the “thumb” area of Eastern Michigan. It is a composite of miracles, dreams, and prayers answered. For all of us have experienced the “gemuethlichkeit” (hospitality) it is a memory that will last forever.  “This business shall continue forever”, according to William “Tiny” Zehnder! As I ponder my totally enjoyable time, the Bavarian Inn experience, with the matriarch, Dorothy Zehnder, all the accolades of praise would not do justice to the warm genuine love that she has given to all who work here at this beautiful resort.


The village of Frank (area of Bavaria) en muth (German word for courage) was settled by German immigrants in 1845. 2013 was the 125th year celebration of the Bavarian Inn which includes a restaurant with 12 German themed dining rooms as well as a resort Lodge with 360 rooms, convention center and 4 indoor pools including two water slides. Throughout the years, the family has developed new businesses, including the Castle Shops, Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, Covered Bridge & Leather Gift Shop, and Frankenmuth River Place Shops.  Other Bavarian Inn operations include Grandpa Tiny’s historical working farm, and the Frankenmuth Motel.


  • DorothyZ
“Family is everything”, states Tiny Zehnder! “Our creed is based on the values, mission, and purpose of the Bavarian Inn. One rule requires that everyone work outside the business to gain other experiences. Like every successful business, we are constantly evolving based on market demands, while staying true to my father’s vision,” says Bill Zehnder.


Family unity, perseverance and hard work, having fun along the way seems to be the secret for Dorothy Zehnder (the 92 year old matriarch), who works 6 days a week managing the kitchen and then on Monday she schedules cooking with her grandchildren. What a woman! As the fourth generation assumes leadership positions in the corporation, they look forward to both upholding tradition and carrying the business forward to future generations. In 2013, 10 family members from three generations work in a very empathetic mode, carrying on the traditions of Tiny and Dorothy Zehnder’s dreams.


Please give the Bavarian Inn a call at 800-BAVARIA or connect with them on their website at www.bavarianinn.com. You will not believe your experiences!!!


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