By Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth
The post WWII era ushered in a business boom for Michigan. The auto industry was thriving; unemployment was about 3.8%, the Michigan tourism industry was growing as people were moving around the state.
By 1948, Zehnder’s had completed the north addition; new restrooms, increased dining space, a new bar area and a large welcoming lobby. Central to our new lobby was a wood burning fireplace still in use today.
It’s interesting to see and hear the surprise in our guests voices and faces when they see the real fire. Generations of guests have walked into our main lobby and warmed themselves in front of the crackling fire. The smell and sounds it creates, add the initial bit of warmth and hospitality I trust they will have throughout their experience. Adding a log on the fire provides an opportunity to interact with guests (some might be napping) to find out where they are from and what brought them here today. Their response is almost always related to a celebration with friends and family. The Germans have a word for that feeling of warmth and coziness – gemeutlichkeit.
Long ago we could have changed the wood burning fireplace to gas, completely eliminated our white table cloths, or replaced our sign that has greeted guests since 1936. But we believe in creating the feeling of warmth and coziness long before the food arrives. We’ve been doing it for generations.
Even if your plans don’t include dining or shopping at Zehnder’s, come in and warm up around the fireplace; I’ll be sure to throw a log on for you!
Al Zehnder, CEO