Emilie B’s is a women’s apparel boutique specializing in the latest on-trend and contemporary clothing and accessories. From jackets and sweaters to tops and dresses, there is a flattering selection of casual and professional attire. A boutique where Moms and Daughters can shop together and both find something that complements their style and budget. Each season promises the newest looks and unique fashions of today’s world.
So who is Emilie B?
Emilie (pronounced Amelia in German) Bickel Zehnder was my Great Grandmother (my Grandpa Tiny Zehnder’s Mother). Emilie grew up on a farm with her family northwest of Frankenmuth, Michigan. She married William Zehnder on Thanksgiving in 1907. She later became the mother to eight children. Her children were her only interest, and needless to say, kept her very busy. Her kind demeanor and generous nature was how she navigated life and led her family.
To her husband, she was a life saver. She was the first assistant in every business he ever began (and there were many) Her biggest challenge came in 1927 when her husband decided to enter the restaurant business. She knew this would be more work for her, but also realized that the restaurant could provide a good future for her family – a family with many little mouths to feed and hands to keep busy.
At the age of 44 with her eight children in tow, she turned an abandoned, cobwebbed hotel into a fine restaurant where people would wait in lines outside for hours to taste her cooking. Sadly, Emilie became ill after three short years in the business and was temporarily unable to participate in daily operations. This was hard for her, but she had trained all of her children so well they were able to take over and eventually grow the business.
Emilie’s last 10 years of life were very physically challenging due to illness and she passed away in 1941 at the age of 58. In 1983, my Grandfather Tiny had a book written about his mother Emilie to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday. A quote from her memoir states, “The Zehnder children remember their mother as courageous woman full of energy, humor, and compassion for others. They all agree she was at her best when she was cooking and baking.”
From her famous chicken dinners, to night in jail time during Prohibition, to surviving in business during the Great Depression, Emilie was a kindhearted, hardworking businesswoman who helped build the foundation of our family businesses at Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s. Today her legacy continues through her grandchildren and great grandchildren involved in the business and community.
Written By: Emilie’s Great Granddaughter Katie Zehnder Weiss
Excerpts from Emilie Bickel Zehnder biography written by Joan B. Ramm in 1983.