Bavarian Inn matriarch turns 95

WZZM 13's Meredith TerHaar talked with a woman who has helped make one Frankenmuth business what it is today.

FRANKENMUTH, MICH. - Frankenmuth, Michigan is a charming little Bavarian town famous for it's year round Christmas cheer and delicious chicken dinners.

Zehnder's and the Bavarian Inn are just down the road from Bronner's Christmas Store.

Both restaurants hail from the same family and serve similar chicken dinners. One of them is celebrating a founding member on Thursday.

Dorothy Zehnder is the matriarch of the Bavarian Inn and she turns 95 on Dec. 1.

In a town where the Christmas spirit knows no bounds, is a woman whose work ethic knows no age limit. It certainly doesn't stop at 65.

"I tried to retire, then I got bored at home," explained Dorothy.

For Dorothy Zhender, 65 was three decades ago. "I'm going to be 95 on December the first." Still in the kitchen six days a week, "I oversee all the food," she explained. Her passion for people and her love for the family business keep her going.

"Everyday I will do whatever needs to be done."

She married a Zehnder, and back in 1950, encouraged the family to buy what is today the Bavarian Inn. Now, her children and grandchildren are part of the business.

"So grandma is the soul of our business," explained Amy Zehnder Grossi. "She teaches all of our team members and us, how to live life to it's fullest and make sure we are upholding our standards that we've been known for and just our community in general, we are just blessed to have her."

"I enjoy what I'm doing so I don't think retirement is for me," said Dorothy.

So, what's the secret to staying so spry at 95? "You have to enjoy what you are doing. I love to work and I love cooking."  And the hundreds of thousand of diners who visit every year, are so glad she does.  Another one of her secrets to long life? "The chicken!" she said with a laugh.

To learn much more about Dorothy (including her two cookbooks) and the Bavarian Inn, click here.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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