By Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth
I imagine our founder, my grandfather, William Zehnder, Sr. had about had it with the restaurant business by 1947. Since their purchase of the New Exchange Hotel in 1928, he and my grandmother Emilie had guided it through the Great Depression, Prohibition and WWII. After Emilie’s death in 1941 he found himself alone and single until he married Agnes Reichle in 1945 and by 1947 at age 66, he was ready to slow down and take it easy.
So on March 10, 1947, William Zehnder Sr., turned over the business (my dad liked to say “debts and all”) to his two daughters and five sons. The remaining children, now young adults, were Linda Trinklein, Ermia “Bowsie” Nuechterlein, Fred, Herman, William (Tiny), Edwin and Leonard. Edwin and Leonard were appointed managers of Zehnder’s and all of the members of their generation served on the board of directors of the business. William Sr. was a frequent visitor to the restaurant and continued to work at the Saginaw County Courthouse until 1953. I have fond memories of his wife, we called her Grandma Agnes, baking bread at Zehnder’s for years. She was a wonderful woman with a kind heart; she and Grandpa Zehnder lived just south of Zehnder’s on Main Street.
That’s how it happens sometimes; a seemingly easy transition from one generation to the next. So March is something of a special month in our history in that it signals a transition, a continuance if you will, of the food and service begun by my grandparents 85 years ago in 1928.
Our company is now in its third and fourth generation of family ownership and management something only about 3% of all family businesses can claim as an accomplishment.
From my family to yours, hope to have you back soon!
Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth