Metzger’s Celebrates 90 Years in Business

Janne Metsker in front of the clock given to the restaurant by customers named Millie and Jim. It is one of only five hand carved clacks From the Black Forest and one of the largest clocks of this type in the world.

By Mary Hall

Ninety years ago in 1928, a young German couple with a small child came to the United States to start their lives over. He was a baker, she a farmer’s daughter, and after working for others for several years and having a second child, the opportunity to rent a local restaurant arose.  The couple, Wilhelm and Marie Metzger and their partner, Christian Kuhn opened “The German American Restaurant” on December 8, 1928, and served breakfast, lunch and dinner – business was good.

Of course, the following year in 1929, the stock market crash and the great depression changed the global economic picture. They worked long hard hours to keep their restaurant open and were able to work their way through.

Since then, the family has had to fight through things like prohibition and discrimination.  During World War II, even though the family had been in the United States for several years, rumors were started that they were spies and Nazis. Wilhelm wrote an open letter to the editor of The Ann Arbor News, and a reporter from the same paper wrote an article trying to quell these rumors.  Soon after, things quieted down. The article written by the reporter is framed and hangs in Metzger’s Restaurant to this day.

As the family grew, the restaurant has been passed down from generation to generation, always remaining in the family. Currently, third generation family member John Metzger owns and manages the restaurant, now located at 305 N. Zeeb Rd. in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  They no longer serve breakfast because, as John says, “This isn’t a breakfast kind of place and we are busy enough with lunch and dinner.”

Fourth generation family member Ryan Dunkelberger is John Metzger’s nephew, and the restaurant’s Chef, having earned a degree in the Culinary Arts. As it states on their web site at, “Ryan’s hard work ethic, his food quality and presentation expectations of all of the staff and his creative daily specials have really set the bar high for outstanding entrees.

It’s not just family that remain faithful to Metzger’s.  They have several long-time employees, including Charlie Clayton, the kitchen manager who has been with the restaurant for almost forty years.  There’s also Betsey Hartwell, one of the managers who has been with them almost thirty-five years.  Several cooks and servers have a record of ten to twenty years with Metzger’s.

The restaurant, which has a full bar and the regular customers that visit that bar, serves both German and American food.  Their most popular dish however is the German Sauerbraten, which consists of slow roasted choice beef carefully marinated in wine vinegar and spices and served with a sour cream gravy.  The most popular dessert? It’s a tie between the Apple Strudel and the Black Forests Torte.

In honor of their ninety-year anniversary, they are serving a beer created especially for this occasion. It’s called Metzger Brau Alt Beer.  They will also be holding special events throughout the year, such as wine-tasting and special dinner promotions.  On the actual day of the anniversary, December 8, 2018, John says “There will be a very special promotion. I can’t tell you about it now but it will be very special.”

Throughout the year, they are selling commemorative t-shirt, steins and beer mugs that denote anniversary information. They’ve also developed a pamphlet about the anniversary that gives a brief history of the restaurant and how it remains so successful to this day.

For more information about Metzger’s Restaurant, please visit their web site at .


Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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