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

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. - Michimich -- Not 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.

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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.

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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.

Source: Bavarian Inn
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