Updated: This week, Mid-Michigan lost the Matriarch of hospitality, family, leadership and mentorship. Dorothy Zehnder made on last trip through Michigan's Little Bavaria -- a tourist destination and tight-knit community she, and her family, helped create.

Her recipes and hospitality have been on display at the business she co-founded with her late husband William "Tiny" Zehnder, the world-famous Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Lodge.

Dorothy Zehnder Funeral

Hundreds lined the streets through Downtown Frankenmuth to say goodbye to Dorothy Zehnder. She died at 101 years of age, July 9th, 2023.

Dorothy Zehnder

It's no secret Dorothy Zehnder until she was 100. Her work was her passion. In one of her "Chicken Chat" features on YouTube, she talked about being left alone to take care of guests at the restaurant in 1950.

Zehnder was seemingly always "working." She was an author of cookbooks, helped in the community through mentoring, tourism (of course) and giving back through the William and Dorothy Zehnder Foundation.

Maker's Mark Bourbon even created Matriarch Legacy 100 inspired by Dorothy Zehnder.

Which other businesses are owned by the Zehnder family?

You've probably visited, at least, a couple of these:

  • Bavarian Inn Lodge
  • Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Castle Shops
  • Covered Bridge Shops
  • Frankenmuth River Place Shops
  • Frank's Muth
  • Frankenmuth Cheese Haus
  • Bavarian Bleachers and more

While Zehnder's Restaurant (famous for chicken dinners) does not fall under the same business umbrella as the Bavarian Inn side of the family business... they "enjoy a friendly family competition."

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We wish warm memormies to the entire Zehnder family and those that knew her, like family.

Look Inside Frankenmuth's Bavarian Inn's Rentable Estate

Welcome, or should we say Wiklum, to ResidenZ at Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth. Although the Bavarian Inn Lodge has been a popular spot for years to stay while visiting "Michigan's Little Bavaria", the latest addition is perfect for large groups and family reunions. The ResidenZ offers 5 bedrooms that sleep up to 14 guests with an additional sofa sleeper for a total count of 16. In addition, there are 5 full bathrooms (two with a jacuzzi tub). The best part is that it's located just across the covered bridge to downtown Frankenmuth right next to Frankenmuth River Place Shops and the Bavarian Inn Lodge. Take a look inside the cutest VRBO rental to his the market in Michigan.

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