On our way up north for Thanksgiving weekend we found a young couple on the side of the road with engine trouble. With nothing open and no way to repair the vehicle we decided to take them to Michigan’s Little Bavaria – Frankenmuth – for some early Christmas cheer.

First stop: Zenders Tap Room, where the lovely and charming keeper of the bar, Rachel, promptly served us cold beer, warm pretzel, and good times.

Warsteiner Dunkel, a classic dark imported from Germany, offered a smooth finish to a long day, and at $3.75 a pint immediately put a smile upon our faces. “It’s a strong beer and it doesn’t sit in your mouth all day”, observed our little stowaway.

The young lady was still shaken and a little cold so we ordered her up a Chocolate Raspberry Hot chocolate Truffle in hopes of making all the fear and pain of having car trouble go away.

Alas, the move, a stunning success.

Two clucks later …

“I’m just amazed at how meaty these wings are,” she said, as Zender’s world famous chicken wings were delivered with tradition and love. One dozen wings $7.95 – a deal anywhere in the world.

“Our thing is chicken; theirs is beer,” announced the birthday boy bartender.

But, ‘who is theirs’?

After a couple of pints and our fill of crispy chicken goodness we strolled across the street to Bavarian Inn. What we discovered was the most authentic Bavarian experience outside of the Homeland: Bell tower, glockenspiel, traditional architecture, and an assortment of elves in lederhosen.

Again, we sat at the bar and this time ordered Jager Schnitzel and draught beer all round.

 “Our thing is chicken, theirs is beer . . .”

The young miss, however, opted for Bavarian Inn Root Beer and warm oversized pretzels ($2.50); her joy filling our hearts.

“Let all the cars in the world be troubled this night so long as there be pretzels and beer!” toasted her companion.

Upon leaving, the young connoisseur of hops and barley bid adieu to the coy, wooden pirate elf that stood watch at the end of the bar while he explained to the rest of us how the Bavarian Inn Dark – exclusively brewed for the Inn at $4.00 a frosty mug – was “significantly stronger than the Dunkel, with a more hoppy taste and, though it lingers a bit more, is still a very clean beer.”

As we exited through the main entrance we encountered a man and his large family squeezing and pushing their way through the door. They were all smiles and clearly very happy to get inside.

“How’s the food?” the man asked.

Don’t get the schnitzel, they’re using schnauzer,” I said.

We entered full of holiday spirit and were transfixed by the grandeur and magnificence that is Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Our compatriots walked through a dizzying display of lights and decoration, playing with colorful ornaments, glittering tinsels, and philosophizing over Santa’s task of circumnavigating the globe in a single night. All would have been fine and well had we not lost them somewhere in the Christmas tree display. We searched for a minute or two but then gave up the hunt.


Oh well, we had turkey to eat the next day and it was getting late. My partner suggested that she drive the rest of the way to Grandma’s house and I, responsibly, agreed. One can only have so many Dunkels.

As I looked out the back window I couldn’t help but wonder what would become of our new friends. Would they ever make it out of Bronners? First world problems. The more important issue, of course, was whether Santa would still have a gift for me under the tree.