What the Cluck? Frankenmuth Chicken Dinners? In Little ‘ol Milan, MI?

I’ve been looking forward to attending an Oktoberfest party this year, in particular because we’re actually having decent autumn weather in Michigan…right now! Last year, it was hot and muggy right around when the Oktoberfest parties were going on. What’s the point of sitting inside in the A/C during Oktoberfest?


This year, I’ll be attending an Oktoberfest party Saturday, Sept. 29 at Original Gravity Brewing Co. in Milan, MI (which is southeast of Ann Arbor). In an intriguing development, there will be a food truck at this event starting at 1 p.m called “The Cluck Truck.” That may not sound like a big deal – a food truck that serves chicken, right? Food trucks are pretty trendy right now, after all, and many of them have “punny” names, like the “Earth, Wind and Fryer” food truck that lives at the Mitten Brewing Co. in Northport, MI. Yes, food trucks are hip and seemingly everywhere… but this is not just ANY chicken…it’s FRANKENMUTH chicken! Read more about this story here.

I’m excited that it’s from the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth because I grew up not too far from that town, aka “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.” Its two large sit-down restaurants – Zehnders – and the Bavarian Inn – serve 850 tons of chicken per year, according to this article. The dinners are served “family style,” which means bowls of potatoes, stuffing and cole slaw – and plates of chicken – come to your table. You take as much – or as little – as you want. But let’s be real – people don’t come here to NOT stuff their faces and bellies!


Slather any of that stuff in their patented “chicken seasoning” and you’re golden! The buttered noodles were ALWAYS my favorite! But then I was never that much of a “meat” kind of gal, LOL!

My maternal grandma used to take my and my brother/cousins to Zehnder’s or the Bavarian Inn for birthday dinners every year. Oh dear lord…those SLABS of sherbet (drool)! My junior high bowling banquets were held here. Countless “special occasion” family dinners were in Frankenmuth.

I took Frankenmuth kind of for granted when I was growing up, because I lived so close to it. And as you can imagine, I took COUNTLESS field trips here. As a teenager, the sledding hill in one of the downtown parks was a “hot spot” in the winter (and we all went to the Bavarian-themed McDonald’s restaurant afterward).  As I grew up, I realized what a huge tourist attraction/trap it was, and started to mock it…a little. It really is a “cheesy” town. It even has a store on its main “drag” called the Cheese Haus. It’s great to come in here when you’re a bit peckish but not QUITE hungry enough yet for a “family style” chicken dinner. The samples! Yum!

But there is one thing about Frankenmuth that I will always love…and that’s the Cass River and the covered bridge that straddles it. Yes, I have a soft spot for covered bridges – when my husband and I were dating, we took frequent trips to Frankenmuth and particularly enjoyed walking under – and hanging out – in the covered bridge. And I got to see it happen – on a school field trip in 1979, a team of oxen dragged this bad boy across the frozen river. Very boring to me at the time (and cold as f—), but looking back, it was actually kind of “cool” that I was here when this happened. In the most “uncool” city, of all cities!


There’s really nothing “cool” about Frankenmuth. But it doesn’t have to be “cool.” Because it has a covered bridge! And enough chicken dinners to feed a small army!


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