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Restaurant Changes Hands -- But It's All In Family

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Restaurant Changes Hands—But It’s All in the Family

By Jack Lewis

The change of ownership is all within the “family” at the local Metzger's Restaurant which has served more than 2,000,000 meals in 31 years.

The new owners are Walter Metzger, 33, of 811 Third St., and Fritz E. Kienzle, 32, of 515 Keech Ave.

Metzger purchased his interest from his father, William Metzger while Kienzle bought his interest from his uncle, Christian Kuhn. Both previous owners are retiring.

The four announced the change of ownership of Metzger’s which has brought forth for Ann Arborites such famed dishes of Southern Germany as spatzen and sauerbraten and weiner schnitzel.

Walter Metzger, who has worked at the restaurant 13 years, and Kienzle, who has been at Metzger’s for three years, said in announcing their acquisition, “at this time there will be no change. Everything will go on as before.”

Tell Their Story

What went on before was recounted yesterday by the elder Metzger, who is 65, and Kuhn, 59, who said they built “a very profitable” business armed with this philosophy:

“We would never -serve any meal that we couldn’t eat ourselves.”

Kuhn and Metzger started their restaurant operation at 122 W. Washington in the boom year—1928—that led to the country’s severest depression.

The test of fortitude and dedication came during the first five years of the 1930’s when Metzger and Kuhn worked 14 or more hours a day to preserve their business. “We didn’t withdraw any money from the business during those years except for necessities,” the two recounted, noting that a full course dinner then cost 30 cents.

By 1936, permanent financial stability had been assured by patronage for the German immigrants from whose cuisine had come the tasty German dishes.

Bought Site In 1936

It was in that year the firm lost its lease at the 122 W. Washington location and purchased its present building at 210 E. Washington and added emphasis to the Metzger name which many persons associate with food.

William Metzger attributes much of the success of the restaurant to his wife, Marie, who has worked for 31 years alongside her husband in the restaurant operation.

It was with some nostalgia that the elder Metzger recounted the “thousands of nice people” he has met, adding, “I want to thank them.”

What will Metzger and Kuhn do in retirement?

Kuhn said he will make improvements at an Ann Arbor township farm he owns “and help, when I am needed, at the restaurant.”

Metzger will also keep his eye on the new owners, “helping the boys get along,”, and may visit his son, Hans, who lives in Pasadena, Calif.

The elder Metzger came to Ann Arbor in 1923, working at a bakery 1 1/2 years prior to serving as pastry chef for four years at the Michigan Union, while Kuhn, who settled here in 1924, worked about four years on a Saline township farm. Both emigrated from Wilhelmsdorf, Wurttemberg, Germany.

They will continue to own the Metzger’s Restaurant building which they are leasing to the younger Metzger and Kienzle.