From Prohibition to the Great Depression to famous fried chicken, Zehnder’s has had quite the past. Not only famous for their delicious food, the historic hotel it lies inside is equally as intriguing. The restaurant prides itself on serving over 30 million people since its opening in 1856.
When the historic Exchange Hotel opened in Frankenmuth it served guests and passerby traveling through the area. It was the first place to serve food in the newly founded city.
William and Emilie Zehnder purchased the hotel in 1928 after selling their family farm, they began serving up their famous fried chicken. While Prohibition raged on it stirred up trouble for the German community who had a fond appreciation for beer.
In 1930, federal agents raided Zehnder’s and arrested William and Emilie for possession and serving of alcohol. Between Prohibition and the Great Depression, the restaurant almost had to close its doors, but after World War II, the restaurant rebounded and surged to fame.
Over the years the family has acquired several other businesses in the area. They also currently operate the Bavarian Inn (across the street) and Zehnder’s Splash Village.
Fun Fact: The neon sign in front of Zehnder’s has been a Main Street icon since 1936.
During your visit, be sure to try some of the “World Famous” chicken dinners that has launched the Zehnder’s family to fame. You can even buy some of the this delicious seasoning from one of the several gift shops in the area.
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