Is America’s Largest Independent Family Restaurant in Michigan?
There's a good probability that you or someone you know has eaten there.
There are thousands of restaurants throughout Michigan and a good chunk of them are family owned and operated. However, one particular restaurant in the state could be the largest independent family restaurant in the United States.
What does that mean exactly? To be honest, I'm not entirely sure as I don't know the metrics of which they used for this claim. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a definite answer either, except for a small snippet on Zehnder's website stating that the restaurant "consistently serves more meals than any other independent restaurant in the United States."
First of all, if you haven't explored Zehnder's of Frankenmuth, it is a pretty massive operation. The restaurant has a total of nine dining rooms. On top of that, the staff at Zehnder's can seat more than 1,500 guests at a time. That is a lot of people. Also, back in the '80s, Zehnder's of Frankenmuth was in the top ten largest restaurants in the nation.
Over the course of one year, Zehnder's opens the door to around one million guests to enjoy the famous all-you-can-eat family-style chicken dinners. It was originally built as the Exchange Hotel and was eventually snatched up by William Zehnder Sr. in 1927 and received a remodel.
The restaurant opened on Mother's Day in 1929 and sold 312 chicken dinners. Currently, the restaurant serves nearly one million pounds of chicken, 26,000 gallons of ice cream, 180,000 pounds of mashed potatoes, and more each year.