There's a big birthday coming up for Frankenmuth's favorite lady, Dorothy Zehnder.

Zehnder, the co-founder of the legendary Bavarian Inn Restaurant in Frankenmuth, is turning 100 years old. She will be celebrating her milestone birthday on December 1, and we can almost guarantee a big celebration. After all, Dorothy Zehnder is what Frankenmuth is truly all about.

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The restaurant world has been part of Zehnder's life since she was just 16 years old and was waiting on her first table at a place called Fischer’s Restaurant in downtown Frankenmuth. It was that restaurant that Zehnder and late husband William “Tiny” Zehnder, whose family owned Zehnder’s Restaurant across the street, would buy and rename the Bavarian Inn.

Today the business that Tiny, who passed away back in 2006, has grown to include not only the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Castle Shops, but the Bavarian Inn Lodge, River Place Shops, Covered Bridge Shop, Frank’s Muth, Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, along with a specialty line of food products, and an online store. Dorothy herself has also authored three cookbooks: “Cookies & Bars,” “Come Cook with Me” and “From My Kitchen to Yours".

If you think that the mother of three children, 10 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandkids, is thinking about slowing down at 100 years old, think again. Dorothy still works almost every single day.

 “Dorothy loves people,” granddaughter Katie Zehnder Weiss told Restaurant News. . “She loves to cook and bring joy to people with our many menu offerings.”

Everyone is encouraged to wish this amazing iconic Michigander a very happy birthday. Send your special birthday greeting for Dorothy Zehnder to


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