The Zehnder Family, the Bavarian Inn and the Bavarian Festival

May 23, 2012

By Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth

The article I wrote last November (click on November 2011 in our archives to refresh your memory) detailed how, in 1949, the Zehnder family purchased Fischer’s Hotel which sat directly across the street from Zehnder’s. Tiny Zehnder was named manager.

As early as May of 1955, Tiny discussed the idea with the Zehnder Board of Directors (his brothers and sisters) of “adding atmosphere” to Fischer’s Hotel by introducing Bavarian architecture to the structure. They were in complete agreement and by October of 1957, they decided to add a new dining room to Fischer’s Hotel. A committee of Fred Zehnder (then President of Zehnder’s), Herman Zehnder and Tiny Zehnder was formed to hire an architect and act as the construction committee. By March 1958, Fred Zehnder reported to his family that the new Bavarian themed dining addition to Fischer’s had been agreed upon by the committee.

As the construction began and progressed, the Zehnder brothers and sisters discussed the possibility of a name change for Fischer’s. The first idea for a new name was “The Frankenmuth Bavarian Hotel”, but after much discussion they decided on “The Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn”.

The June 1959 grand opening of the renamed Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn was huge success. That celebration was the foundation to the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival that continues to this day.

This year our community celebrates the 54th Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival beginning Thursday, June 7th and concluding with a grand parade down Frankenmuth’s Main Street on Sunday, June 10th.

If you have any Bavarian Festival memories, particularly the early years, please share them with us. All the best!

~Al Zehnder

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