This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

5 Businesses That Have Survived 50+ Years

The Bavarian Inn
Frankenmuth, Mich.
150 full-time employees; in-season up to 1,000

The secret to success for The Bavarian Inn seems likes something so obvious, but yet something that some companies can't seem to figure out how to do well -- pay attention to what customers want and respond.

The Inn, which dates back to 1888 and has had several name changes, started out as a boardinghouse for the lumbermen in the Frankenmuth area, about 100-miles north of Detroit. As the lumber trade started to move away from the area, the boardinghouse changed to a restaurant that promoted "all-you-can-eat" chicken dinners, says president William Zehnder.

Zehnder, 64, says his family purchased the property 53 years ago (his parents used to come for the chicken dinners) and started to expand, beginning with a Bavarian-style hotel addition in homage to the area's German roots.

Since then the Inn has expanded exponentially. With more than $31 million in annual revenue, the property includes a separate lodge, swimming pools, shopping and a water park. Today the restaurant seats 1,200 guests in 12 dining rooms and serves over 600,000 meals annually.

"The business always needed to adapt to what the market was dictating," Zehnder says. "We were basically following what our customers saying and adding on to what they liked."

Another key to the company's success -- a total of 10 members of Zehnder's family are actively involved in managing and operating the business, including his 91-year-old mother, who still works in the kitchen. "There's always a couple of them pretty much on site at all times," Zehnder says. "It's one of the real strengths we have as a business and as a family."

But with a property as big as the resort, one has to wonder if the family ever considered that it over-expanded. Zehnder easily answers the question, saying that while not everything was an automatic success, those decisions haven't been regretted.

"You just got to keep trying things and seeing what works and maybe not spend too much money on it initially," he says. "Our challenge and my children and nieces and nephews' challenge is to figure out what the needs are going to be going forward. We need to find it before everyone else does."

Zehnder says the resort's recent addition of a water park was an example of filling the need. "We caught that wave on the upswing, so to speak, and are able to capture a lot of guests," he says.

One of the biggest priorities for the family is being able to create memorable opportunities for other families -- and that especially means competing in today's digital-centric world.

"We're not interested in selling," Zehnder says. "We're interested in continuing our legacy and continuing to create enjoyable experiences for our guests and for our team members."

5 of 6

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Try it NOW
Only $9.95
Try it NOW
14-Days Free
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
GRPN $7.61 0.00%
YHOO $45.10 0.00%
AAPL $123.25 0.00%
FB $83.30 0.00%
GOOG $548.34 0.00%

Markets

DOW 17,712.66 +34.43 0.19%
S&P 500 2,061.02 +4.87 0.24%
NASDAQ 4,891.2190 +27.8570 0.57%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs