Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth is the second largest independent restaurant in the United States and America’s largest family restaurant. With ten dining rooms that seat more than 1500 guests, Zehnder’s serves about a million diners a year. Their history page has a cool old photo and explains that just a decade after German missionaries founded the settlement of Frankenmuth, the Exchange Hotel began serving meals to local people and travelers in 1856. In 1927:
William Zehnder, Sr. acquired the Hotel, which had been vacant for four years, by trading a farm he owned, plus $4000 he borrowed. Both the exterior and the interior were extensively remodeled. The front of the exterior was made to look like Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. The place, renamed Zehnder’s Hotel, opened on Mother’s Day, 1928, with a seating capacity of 60. On that day, 312 diners were served family style chicken dinners for $1 per person.
While the $1 chicken dinner isn’t offered today, their menu features all-you-can-eat family style chicken dinners, Old World classics like Black Forest pork chops, Barvarian sausage and Pan Fried Pork Schnitzel with Wild Forest Mushrooms and a variety of seafood, steaks, fresh baked goods and European desserts.
Every January, they hold a Snowfest and you can view a vide report from Snowfest 2008 featuring John Zehnder from mLive on YouTube. Also check out Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth on the Absolute Michigan Map of Michigan.