Dorothy Zehnder
Dorothy Zehnder

Wishing Dorothy a Happy Birthday this year

Bavarian Inn Matriarch, Dorothy Zehnder, Celebrating 101st Birthday December 1Frankenmuth, MI  (  Dorothy Zehnder, beloved co-founder of the family-owned Bavarian Inn Resort that includes the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, Bavarian Inn Lodge, Frankenmuth Gift Shops Inc. and Frankenmuth River Place Shops, will celebrate her 101st birthday on Thursday, Dec. 1.

At 101 years young, Dorothy still maintains close contact with her family and her favorite places, like the kitchens at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant.

“Even at 101, Dorothy still loves what she does,” says granddaughter Amy Zehnder Grossi. “She loves good food, being with people, and playing card games — and she’s still great at it, too.”

For more than 85 years, Dorothy has been instrumental with the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn and the many operations under that name. Besides the restaurant, the diverse array of businesses include the Bavarian Inn Castle Shops, the Bavarian Inn Lodge, Frankenmuth River Place Shops, Covered Bridge Shop, Frank’s Muth retail store, a specialty line of food products, a family foundation and an online store.

A Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame inductee and recipient of the Saginaw Lifetime Achievement Award, 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 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 more than 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 4 of her grandchildren – a total of 8 family members – work every day to continue the success story of the Bavarian Inn. Dorothy loves spending time with her children, 10 grandchildren, and 23 great grandchildren.

Fans of Dorothy are invited to send her birthday greetings by email: Dorothy and her immediate family will celebrate her 101st birthday with a 101 Dalmatian themed party. At 101, Dorothy still loves a good party! 

About Bavarian Inn Resort

The Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Resort is a Midwest Resort destination for families and groups alike, who seek enjoyable experiences in lodging, dining, shopping, special events, and conference/meeting services. The resort includes Bavarian Inn Restaurant, Bavarian Inn Lodge, Frankenmuth Gift Shops Inc., and Frankenmuth River Place Shops.

About Bavarian Inn Lodge

For over 36 years, nestled along the banks of the Cass River in Frankenmuth, is one of the state’s largest indoor water park hotels. The Lodge, currently managed by the 4th generation Bavarian Inn family members, 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. Banquet facilities can accommodate events for 2-500 guests to enjoy Old World Charm with modern technology and delicious meals. In over 36 years of business, the Bavarian Inn Lodge has been an important destination for travelers, evidenced by the 2.5 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:

About Bavarian Inn Restaurant

Celebrating over 134 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 in this 1,200 seat restaurant 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. 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:

Sue Voyles
Logos Communications