When Kathleen Nickles from the Bavarian Inn called up to place her biannual reorder, I asked her if she could tell me the story of how she started working with Arnie and a bit more about their business.  Located in Frankenmuth, MI, The Bavarian Inn is a family owned and operated European-like lodge that opened its doors in 1950.  Kathleen has been working for them for 15 years and, after their local tie vendor went out of business, she jumped on the internet and found Arnie and Shop4ties.  We’ve been making their ties ever since!

Apart from the fact that they look for family-operated companies, she said Arnie never made her feel like it was a vendor-client relationship.  Instead, he treated her like she was a person with a life on the other end of the phone and he took the time to get really get to know her before earning her business.  Kathleen and I got to talking about all different kinds of stories.  The most fascinating one is that the owner of the Inn is a young 95 years old and still works 6-8 hours per day at the resort and in the kitchen — how incredible!  They have a loyal customer base and really know how to take care of their guests and make each person feel very special — a rare treat when they have over 800,000 visitors a year!

We asked them a bit about the Bavarian to get more insight into this beautiful place.


A German-themed hotel is unusual! Can we get a little history on how the Bavarian Inn started? 

We have a Restaurant and a Lodge all with the Bavarian Inn name:

“The William (Tiny) Zehnder, Jr. family owns the Bavarian Inn of Frankenmuth. Tiny’s family purchased Fischer’s Hotel in 1950. Tiny left farming, and he and his young wife, Dorothy (a former waitress at Fischer’s), became the managers of the new business. They worked side-by-side to develop the Bavarian Inn Restaurant into what it is today. It has been the persistence and the perseverance of this dynamic team that helped transform the restaurant to its authentic German flavor that is reflected in the building, entertainment, costumes, and food.”

What is the hotel’s most unique offering? 

Our family style chicken dinners of course (we serve over 350 TONS of chicken a year, featured recently in Corp Magazine!).  The Restaurant is also known for our authentic Glockenspiel (clock tower) which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  The Lodge has everything under one roof — swimming, over 150 arcade games, dining, retail, waterslides and pools/hot tubs, and lodging!

What is your favorite time of year for the Inn?  That is hard to say because I love them all!  But if I had to pick it would be a hard sell between summer with all the beautiful flowers and activities, and winter with the Christmas decorations.

It looks like the Inn is someplace families could enjoy over the years.  Do you have many repeat visitors? 

We have generations of guests that come here, including our own 4th generation owners : )


We can’t wait to take our family to the lodge and get to experience it ourselves!