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A Michigan Destination for Chicken Dinners Gets a James Beard Nod

Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth is one of six recipients of the foundation’s America’s Classics Award, which represents institutions

A man and woman stand back to back carrying multiple plates of fried chicken and other items
Two servers show off plates of fried chicken and more at Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth
Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth [official photo]
Missy Frederick is the Cities Director for Eater.

A Michigan restaurant serving fried chicken dinners is one of six places across the country that the James Beard Foundation has recognized with its 2020 America’s Classics Award.

The award goes to Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, located about an hour and a half’s drive from Detroit, which has been around since 1928. It’s part of a large complex with a hotel, waterpark, and golf course, and seats a whopping 1,500 people who gather together for fried chicken, sides, and a scoop of sherbet to finish the meal. It even has its own rooster mascot.

Different than the traditional James Beard Awards, which recognize restaurants in such categories as Outstanding Service and Rising Star Chef of the Year, the America’s Classics Award is designed for locally-owned restaurants with “timeless appeal” and quality food that reflects the community’s character. The awards have been announced gradually throughout this week, with Seattle’s Oriental Market, New Hampshire’s Puritan Back Room, Arkansas’ Lassis Inn, Texas’ Vera’s Bar-B-Que, and Denver’s El Taco de Mexico rounding out the winners.

Zehnder’s isn’t the first Michigan restaurant to receive the honor. Lebanese favorite Al Ameer won the award back in 2016.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards.

These Six ‘Timeless’ Restaurants Won the 2020 James Beard America’s Classics Awards [E]

All Previous James Beard Coverage [E]