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Squeezing Success

Stories from Citrus America Customers

Nestled in the heart of Frankenmuth, Michigan, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Detroit, Zehnder's Restaurant exemplifies tradition and resilience. Established in 1929 by William and Emilie Zehnder, this iconic establishment has evolved into much more than a family-style restaurant—it's a cornerstone of Michigan's tourism industry, drawing in over 30 million guests from around the world.

Stepping into Zehnder's is like stepping into a time-honored culinary journey. The restaurant's roots trace back to the early 1900s when the Zehnder family purchased the Exchange Hotel (built in 1856) in 1928, which opened on Mother’s Day 1929, laying the foundation for what would become a lasting legacy in the hospitality industry. Despite facing challenges like Prohibition and the Great Depression, the Zehnder family persevered, transforming their dream into a reality.

While the restaurant remains famous for its family-style fried chicken dinner—a tradition dating back decades—it continually seeks to elevate the dining experience.

Christopher Zehnder, a fourth-generation descendant of the restaurant's founders, emphasizes the importance of innovation, stating, "While we are a traditional family restaurant, innovation and keeping up with the times are very important to us."

This commitment extends far beyond the dining room to include Zehnder's Splash Village, an example of the family's forward-thinking approach. Opened in June 2005, the 152-room indoor water park hotel Splash Village combines the warmth of Zehnder's hospitality with the excitement of a water park, offering guests a unique and memorable experience.

A large, elegant building with a white exterior and a prominent veranda, surrounded by well-manicured gardens and trees under a clear blue sky. The building boasts multiple chimneys, a cupola, and an inviting entrance where you might imagine finding a top-quality commercial citrus juicer inside.

"While we are a traditional family restaurant, innovation and keeping up with the times are very important to us."

Zehnder’s is not just a restaurant; it's a multifaceted destination that caters to a diverse array of guests. From families seeking a memorable vacation at Splash Village to golf enthusiasts looking for a challenging round at The Fortress, Zehnder's offers something for everyone. Christopher underscores the importance of constantly innovating and adapting to meet the changing needs and preferences of their clientele, whether it's through culinary innovations or expanding their hospitality offerings.

One of the standout features of Zehnder's experience is its freshly squeezed orange juice, sourced through its partnership with Citrus America. This ensures that guests enjoy the highest quality orange juice, served at Zehnder's Restaurant, in its cafe, and at nearby Splash Village. The utilization of Citrus America's cutting-edge machines adds a touch of modernity to the traditional charm of Zehnder's, creating a seamless blend of old-world charm and contemporary convenience.

A woman with long blonde hair is smiling and placing an orange into a commercial citrus juicer. The machine, equipped with a wire basket for holding oranges, is positioned on a countertop in a well-lit room. The background includes blurred details of a kitchen or café setting.

Fresh orange juice squeezed on a Citrocasa Fantastic F/SB commercial citrus juicer at Zehnder’s

Christopher highlights how the decision to invest in Citrus America's machines was driven by a desire to offer guests the best possible experience. As he explains, the feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing appreciation for the quality and freshness of the orange juice, whether enjoyed as a standalone beverage or as part of a larger dining experience.

In the decade since the machines were introduced, Christopher says “The return on investment has been wonderful. We’ve had so many compliments about it, both the units themselves and the quality of the juice.”

He continues, “We always say, it takes just as much work to do something the best as it does the second best. When it came to orange juice, that wasn’t the best we could do, so we figured out how to make it better,” by using Citrus America’s machines.

Christopher says the freshly squeezed juice has been a hit and really popular. “It was kind of a no-brainer. We discovered that a guest is willing to spend a little bit more for a great quality product.”

Zehnder also emphasizes the appeal of watching the Citrus America machines in action, noting how adults and children are captivated by the process of oranges being transformed into juice.

“The return on investment has been wonderful. We’ve had so many compliments about it, both the units themselves and the quality of the juice.”

This engagement with the preparation process adds to the overall dining experience, creating a memorable moment for guests and setting a new standard for their expectations of freshness and quality. As Zehnder mentions, the availability of fresh orange juice has become an expected feature for returning guests, influencing their future dining choices and enhancing the overall buffet experience at Splash Village, where it's offered as an all-you-can-drink option.

He adds that working with Citrus America has been great, especially their customer support. “The machine rarely breaks down, and if it does, they're on the ball with sending us new parts and troubleshooting with us. That's why we've stuck with them…they have been so helpful.”

Looking ahead, Christopher discusses exciting plans for the future of Zehnder's, including the development of a boutique hotel called The Mill at Zehnder Park. This new venture represents a significant expansion of Zehnder's hospitality offerings, catering to travelers seeking a luxurious and unique lodging experience in the heart of Frankenmuth. Additionally, ongoing renovations at Splash Village and the golf course underscore Zehnder's ongoing focus on providing exceptional amenities and experiences for guests.

Reflecting on the enduring success of Zehnder's, Christopher shares his excitement for the future, stating, "We're excited about what lies ahead. We're always looking for ways to enhance the guest experience." As Zehnder's prepares to celebrate its centennial anniversary in 2029, the restaurant remains steadfast in ensuring that each visit is not just a meal but a cherished memory for its guests. He speaks with pride about the upcoming milestone of celebrating a century in business, highlighting how the restaurant has evolved over the years while staying true to its roots.

As Zehnder's of Frankenmuth continues to evolve and grow, Christopher remains focused on upholding the family's legacy of excellence and innovation. He’s grateful for the support of the local community and looks forward to welcoming guests from near and far to experience all that Zehnder's has to offer. With a fourth generation of ownership poised to carry the torch forward, Zehnder's is well-positioned to continue delighting guests and setting the standard for hospitality in Frankenmuth and beyond.

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