Local delicacies: Metzger’s German restaurant has weathered despair, wars and a pandemic

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI – One of Ann Arbor’s oldest restaurants is approaching its 93rd birthday.

Metzger’s is located on Zeeb Road in the parish of Scio and has been family owned since German immigrants Wilhelm and Marie Metzger took over a German restaurant on West Liberty St. in Ann Arbor in 1928. In 1936 the restaurant moved to 203 East Washington St., where it stayed for 63 years before closing in 1999.

In 2001, Wilhelm’s grandson John Metzger reopened the restaurant in its current location. In his words, the company survived the Great Depression, World War and now the pandemic.

“We survived the Depression and World War II and many other problems,” said Metzger. “The pandemic is bad, but that was pretty bad too.”

Metzger’s is known for traditional German dishes such as schnitzel, sauerbraten – a slowly roasted beef that is marinated in wine, vinegar and spices and served with a sour cream sauce – and sparrows, a traditional German egg noodle.

The restaurant also specializes in sausages such as bratwurst, Mettwurst and Knackwurst as well as desserts such as apple strudel and Black Forest cake.

The pandemic took a financial toll and the company lost about $ 1 million in sales last year, Metzger said as he struggled to keep employees on payroll. Some of Metzger’s managers have been with the family for 40 years, he said.

While hoping the restaurant can soon return to 100 percent capacity, Metzger said regular customers are steadily returning for a personal dinner at 50 percent capacity. The return was helped by an outdoor beer garden serving the Warsteiner beer they’ve proudly had on tap for years, he said.

“People are coming back now that they are getting their vaccines,” said Metzger. “The weekends are getting on a lot now, and as long as we can open 100 percent soon, we’ll be fine.”

When Metzger turned 85 in 2013, the restaurant offered its customers a special dinner – an 85 percent discount on their order. Metzger said the restaurant is planning a similar celebration for his 95th and 100th birthday parties. In the future he hopes that the restaurant can stay in the family.

“As long as I make it to the hundredth, I’ll be happy,” said Metzger. “And I think we will.”

Metzger’s, 305 N. Zeeb Road in the parish of Scio, is open Monday through Thursday from 11am to 8.30pm, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 9pm, and Sunday from 11am to 8pm. Call 734-668-8987 or visit the website or Facebook page for more information.

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