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Metzgers History

Metzgers History

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Published by Nathan Olmstead
The complete history of Metzger's German Restaurant in Ann Abror, Michigan.
The complete history of Metzger's German Restaurant in Ann Abror, Michigan.

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Categories:Types, Brochures
Published by: Nathan Olmstead on Mar 21, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Walter and Ruth Metzger still come in frequently to dine. Walter’s favorite foods are of course the German dishes, but he also enjoysthe fresh seafood’s steaks and the chicken entrées.With the reopening of the restaurant, long-time employeesCharlie Clayton, night kitchen manager for twenty years, hasreturned to provide good food and atmosphere to dedicated customers. Amy Amy has been with Metzger’s for over twelveyears and is now the dining room manager. Betsey Hartwell hasbeen with Metzger’s for over 28 years is currently the operationsmanager. Charlie Moore, who worked at the Old German for  fifteen years, as a lead cook is our Kitchen manager, now preparesour wonderful spatzen and famous German potato salad. Although the exterior of Metzger’s German Restaurant haschanged, the interior maintains the atmosphere of old Germany.Cuckoo clocks and massive bier steins surround patrons.Traditional German carvings and antiques line ornate shelves onthe walls. Most of the items were acquired by members of the Metzger’s family, while others were gifts from loyal customers. Even the walls bear history. There you can see timeworn picturesof Wilhelm, Marie and Christian, the previous locations, and theemployees who served there. For four generations and eighty years, the Metzger family haskept the tradition alive, serving German food as well as American fare to Ann Arbor customers. When you dine at Metzger’s, you are participating in a piece of Ann Arbor History.“ We are very proud to have had our business for eighty years in Ann Arbor, and we thank the community for the support that it hasgiven us over all these years,” Walter & John Metzger.
Telephone 734.668.8987  Metzger’s is located at 305 N. Zeeb Rd Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103 At the Zeeb Rd. 169 Exit off I-94, Just north of Jackson Rd.in Baxter’s Plazawww.metzgers.net  
 Revised 2008 Betsey Hartwell 
 Metzger’s German Restaurant 
Celebrating 80 Years 1928 – 2008
The Tradition
 For 80 years, Metzger’s German Restaurant has been an iconic part of the Ann Arbor cultural scene and a reminder of the contributions of Ann Arbor’s early German immigrants. For all those years, despite political and economic hardships, the Metzger family has served rich, tasty, and traditional German cuisine. Residents of all communities flocked here for excellent food and European ambience. Today, having spanned four generations of Metzger’s, the restaurant thrives, and meets the highest standards of traditional German food. Since 1928, Metzger’s German Restaurant has served more than seven million guests.
 Metzger’s Restaurant: 1936
The Food 
 Metzger’s Restaurant has something for everyone, as it servesboth German and American food. Sauerbraten is the housespecialty, marinated roast beef with a sour cream wine sauce. Rouladen is hand cut, round of beef rolled and stuffed with bacon,onions, pickles, mustarded, and traditional German spices, all baked in a flavorful tomato beef sauce. Our Ziguener Steak is a topsirloin topped with onions, mushrooms, and green peppers. Bratwurst and Knackwurst are served as well as our Mettwurst sausage, which is a mildly spicy sausage. Weiner Schnitzel is abreaded pork cutlet, a tradition in Hessen. Prime rib, steaks, chops, fresh seafood and American chicken dishes, including our famous Fried and Roasted Chicken are also served. Side dishes includealimentary treasures like homemade German potato salad,spatzen, which are German noodles, German potato pancakes, and  Sauerkraut. German desserts such as Black Forest torte, applestrudel and our homemade delicious bread pudding compliment hearty meat. Metzger’s German Restaurant also serves genuine German beersboth in the bottle and on draft. The award winning wine list offersregional delicacies including a variety of Rieslings, highlyaromatic Gewürtzraminer. Those who dine at Metzger’s becomeinstant connoisseurs of German hospitality.
 Humble Beginnings
Wilhelm Metzger was born in 1894 to Johannes, a baker, and  Frederike Metzger, in the town of Wilhelmsdorf, Württemberg,Germany. He joined the German army in 1914, and was soon after sent to the front in France, where he was wounded. When he waswell enough to return to duty he was sent to fight in the Alps as aski trooper, where he served under the Company Commander  Irwin Rommel. Walter Metzger still has his father’s ‘passbook” detailing all of his movements while in the service. Wilhelm wasdischarged from the army in 1918 and awarded the Iron Cross. Following the footsteps of his father, Wilhelm went to Stuttgart toapprentice as a baker soon had attained the title “Master Baker.”  He married the daughter of Jacob and Frederika (Steck) Lamparter, Maria, who had grown up on a small farm, which sheworked with her mother. Meanwhile, their future partner,Christian Kuhn was also born in Wilhelmsdorf. Christian served inthe German army, was captured by the Canadian forces, and released after the war. As it became harder to make a living in theeconomic climate of Germany, Wilhelm, Marie, and Christiansought passage to the United States. However, in 2000, John and his business minded Sister Heidi began to plan Metzger’s return to the Ann Arbor restaurant scene.Upon opening, John and Heidi had a new partner Joe Neely. Hisdedication and hard work helped Metzger’s start up and thriveagain! Joe is no longer a partner as of 2004, but he remains a true friend. The Ann Arbor community rallied around the reopening,sending scores of encouraging e – mails and letters praising the family’s decision to open.
 Fourth Generation
Today, the Metzger family has grown larger. Not all of itsmembers work in the family restaurant. Fred Metzger (third generation) is a geologist in Ann Arbor, and dines here with hiswife Laurie. Susan and her husband Edward Dunkelberg, areelementary education schoolteachers, and have two children, Ryanand Lindsay. Ryan worked in the kitchen and was instrumental increating a new dessert for the restaurant, our double chocolatecherry torte. John’s children, William and Kristen, also worked at the restaurant while undergraduate students at the University of  Michigan.
 New Beginnings
 Heidi Metzger worked in Ann Arbor for many years while frequenting the restaurant. During that time, she had little formal involvement in her family’s restaurant. Yet when her son Mitchell,was six, she decided to take a leave of absence to spend more timewith him. When her brother John, asked for her help in designing astrategy for reopening the family restaurant, she was uncertainabout the time commitment, but accepted. “ Heidi assisted indeveloping the startup plan, helped select and manage thecontractors, hiring staff, and getting the place built, for that I amvery grateful” John Metzger.
 Past Employees
 Milly Docktor, Maria Wagner, and Annieliese Tramontintogether combined for over one hundred years of service to Metzger’s and our customers. “Loyal employees like these womenand hundreds of others that make Metzger’s a dining tradition in Ann Arbor for 80 years.” Walter Metzger.
two year, between 1944 and 1946. After his service, he returned tothe States to take up the family business, In 1949, he met Ruth Ebinger in Wilhelmsdorf while on a visit to see his Grandfather. Ruth’s father, a preacher, married them in 1950. They returned tolive in the United Sates soon after. When Christian Kuhn and Wilhelm Metzger decided to retire in 1959, Walter bought his father’s shares and Christian’s nephew Fritz Kienzel bought hisshares. Ruth and Walter devoted their lives to running therestaurant according to traditionally high standards, and raisingtheir children. In addition to tending a young family, Ruth worked at the restaurant between 1975 and 1991.When the founders of what was to be a multi-generational business passed away, they left behind more than their restaurant.They left behind a growing family of devoted children and grandchildren, and a legacy of German warmth and hospitality.They will be remembered by all who knew them and everyone whodines at Metzger’s German Restaurant. Wilhelm Metzger passed away in 1960. Christian Kuhn died in 1969. After a long fruitful life, Marie Metzger died peacefully in her sleep, two days after her 77 
birthday, in 1970.
Third Generation
Walter and Ruth had four children. Fred, Susan, John and Heidi. Each of the children worked at the restaurant in their childhoods,bringing dark German bread to tables, washing dishes, and seating patrons. Of the children, John Metzger showed the most enthusiasm for taking over his parents’ restaurant. After attendingthe University of Michigan, John formally linked himself to Metzger’s restaurant by forming a corporation with his father in1975, after Walter had bought out his partner’s share. In 1984,Walter and John bought the space next door to their restaurant with ideas of expansion in mind. When Walter was ready to retirein 1985, he sold his interest to John. John renovated the restaurant extensively, and in 1991 received the Ann Arbor Historic Preservation Award for Rehabilitating 201 East Washington. Therestaurant was recognized as a historical landmark, and an asset to the City of Ann Arbor. Trouble returned to the family restaurant however, when the parking garage across the street closed for nearly three years. Customers were denied convenient access to therestaurant. It chocked business. In May 1999 Metzger’s German Restaurant closed its doors. “ It was a sad time,” says Ruth Metzger. The family auctioned many of the restaurant’s decorativeantique pieces. Heidi Metzger, now herself a mother, recalls thediscoursing time. “We never thought we would reopen.” They were sponsored by Sam Heusel, a German baker who had established himself in Ann Arbor. Sam Heusel was the grandfather of popular radio personality, Ted Heusel who passed away in 2007. Because of immigration quotas, Wilhelm could not bring Marie and their young son Hans, who was born in 1922, to theUnited States with him in 1923. They were finally permitted to joinhim fifteen months later. Together the small family ran the Liberty Street boarding house, while Wilhelm also worked at Sam Heusel’s“Home Bakery.”  After working for Sam Heusel,Wilhelm worked as a baker for theUniversity of Michigan for oneyear, where friend and futureUniversity of Michigan Football Coach Bennie Oosterbaan was alsoworking, washing pots and pans. Marie cooked and cleaned for the family as well as six boarders.Their second child Walter, wasborn in 1926. When the Flautz  family, owner of a local restaurant at 122 West Washington decided to return to their native Germany,they rented their location to the Metzger family and Christian Kuhn. At the same time that Wilhelm and Marie came to the United  States, two of Wilhelm’s brothers, Fritz and Gottfried, emigrated tothe United States. Fritz later bought the Old German from it’soriginal owner, Gottlob Schumacher, who retired in 1946. Gottfried owned the Deluxe Bakery on East Washington, and would supplybread and baked goods to both the Old German and the Metzger’sGerman Restaurant for many years.
The Restaurant 
“The German American Restaurant” opened on December 8, 1928.They served breakfast, lunch, and dinner to an appreciative American clientele, and business was good. Prohibition was in full swing at the time and alcohol was not permitted in any form. Oneday, the cider that the Metzger’s served was found to have fermented, and the family was severely reprimanded. Wilhelm was placed on probation for five years. And an enormous fine (in thosedays) of $100 was applied. Furthermore, a monthly fine wasdemanded for a total of sixty months. Despite this financial setback, business continued to thrive, until the nation entered the

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