Al Zehnder Interview Promo

Our work here at ZENTX is a combination of bringing crazy ideas to life and solving problems. As we’ve discovered, one can’t go without the other. You can’t really bring crazy ideas to life without solving problems along the way. In some ways, this combination makes our work all the more fun because we know we’re making something that will not only satisfy our customers’ dreams but also something that will last.

The relationship between these two elements of our work was especially obvious during two recent projects for Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. The first project involved repairing a history wall in their restauraunt that they had built some time ago. The adhesive was failing and pictures were slipping from their mounts. Something obviously needed to be done differently. So we took the repair on and brought some solutions to the table (or the wall, rather).

After solving this problem, we also began work on a brand new sort of history wall for the Zehnder’s taproom. To get this job done, we used those same problem-solving skills while also integrating new ideas to fit what the customer had in mind. The result was a warm and modern collage of vintage postcards from Zehnder’s history.

Once we completed both projects, sales rep Sheena Lovitos Wildenhaus took the opportunity to visit Zehnder’s and hear what the Zehnder’s CEO had to say about our work on the walls. We shared some of the highlights from their conversation in this video that you can now find on our YouTube channel. He had a lot more to say, though, so we thought it would be worthwhile to share the rest of their conversation now.

Scroll down to find Sheena’s full conversation with Al Zehnder, the CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth.

Introduce yourself and tell us more about Zehnder’s.

I’m Al Zehnder. I’m CEO of Zehnder’s, third generation. Zehnder’s traces our history to 1856, when it was the Exchange Hotel. It went through a number of owners until my grandfather bought the business in 1928. We opened on Mother’s Day of 1929. So this is our 90th year in the hospitality business. We are America’s largest family restaurant [at] 1,500 seats. And we serve about a million people each year. We are a third generation family business with [a] fourth generation coming into the business as well. [We’re] proud of our history and proud of our heritage.

One of the things we’ve worked on over the years is getting that history on the walls so people can understand what Zehnder’s is all about. The project we were working on with ZENTX was taking our postcards from the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, blowing them up, and putting them on the wall in our taproom. The taproom was part of our 1948 addition. In 1948 we expanded to the north, [adding] our north wing. And the taproom and the lobby that we are sitting in was part of that addition in addition to what was called the colonial room at the time. In fact, one of the postcards on there, or many of those post cards, sort of detail that grand opening. It began in 1948.

Al Zehnder
Al Zehnder

Over the last few years, within that hallway that is on the other side of the taproom, we’ve put a lot of our history on the wall. We have our history wall, and over the years we needed to do some repairs to that and worked with ZENTX in making sure that it lasts for generations to come.

Through that experience, we [decided to pursue another project with ZENTX.] I’ve always wanted to get our postcards on the wall because they’re so unique and span decades of our business. We have postcards from our very very beginning in 1929 and 30. It’s a very unique feature of our taproom. The taproom is actually one of my favorite rooms because it’s smaller, it’s very warm, and the history that it exudes—our guests have really enjoyed that.

Describe your ZENTX experience. What’s your favorite thing about working with our company?

We found ZENTX through a recommendation from another company. We knew the project that we wanted to do, they couldn’t handle it, and they said that, “Well, [ZENTX] is really the company that you want to talk to.” And from the very beginning, I knew that we had the right company to work with. Prompt, professional, on-time. And the quality of the work is just really superior, and I really appreciate all of that.

In fact, from the repair to the history wall to the postcard wall, we’ve been talking about one additional small project that we’re going to do in the taproom that is sort of a nod to our guests and getting names up on the walls. So we’re looking forward to that, and it has just made me think, “What else can we do?” I’ve appreciated the relationship and look forward to working with ZENTX in the future.