Frankenmuth is a long-standing favorite destination for tourists and Michiganders alike. Its charming downtown area is dotted with fudge shops, souvenir stores, and unique Bavarian architecture. But no trip to Frankenmuth is truly complete without a visit to the town’s most famous eatery: Zehnder’s, located at 730 South Main Street. If you’re searching for a hearty family-style meal paired with a one-of-a-kind historical vibe, you’ve come to the right place.
Zehnder’s Restaurant was established in 1928, when the Zehnder family purchased Frankenmuth’s long-standing Exchange Hotel. Prior to the Zehnders’ purchase of the hotel, food was served on-site beginning in 1856.
After a thorough remodeling of the hotel and restaurant, much of which was based on the style of Mount Vernon, William and Emilie Zehnder officially opened the doors of their eatery on Mother’s Day 1929. The first meals served at Zehnder’s cost a whopping one dollar per person.
During Prohibition, the Zehnder family was torn by the fact that alcohol played a major role in Frankenmuth’s atmosphere. Thus, they continued to serve beer and other drinks to a select few patrons. In 1930, Zehnder’s was the target of a government raid, which resulted in the arrest of Emilie and William. They spent a night in the county jail and were ultimately released on bond, but this didn’t deter their dedication to maintaining a successful restaurant.
Over the next several decades, Zehnder’s underwent a variety of transformations: both physically and in relation to its menu. During the 1950s, the restaurant premiered its now-famous Family Style Chicken Dinner, which remains a favorite for diners to this day.
Today, a visit to Zehnder’s is sure to delight diners of all ages. The eatery can seat an incredible 1,500 people, earning it the title of “America’s Largest Family Restaurant.”
Visitors will be charmed to see waitstaff dressed in traditional Bavarian attire, which simply adds to the unique atmosphere of the restaurant. The decor of the eatery is elegant and well-kept, and the food maintains its long history of excellence.
If you’re not sure what to order, go with the Zehdner’s classic: a delectable chicken dinner that will fill up your belly and leave you counting down the days until your next visit. For an after-dinner treat, try one of Zehnder's' delicious baked goods or homemade breads.
Your trip to Zehnder’s will be rich with hospitality, family fun, and amazing food. There’s no better way to satisfy your inner history buff — or inner foodie — than with a visit to this undeniably unique restaurant right here in Michigan.
Tell us: what’s your go-to order when you stop in for a meal at Zehnder’s? Has visiting this restaurant become a tradition in your family?