History of the Bären Gonten

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The Bären Writes History – for Centuries

Our medieval vaulted cellar and the centuries-old wooden beams bear witness to this: this house has been an important part of the small Appenzell village of Gonten not only since yesterday.

It is considered the oldest private building in the community. A Bären inn is first mentioned in a document in 1751. At that time the innkeepers were called Johann Bartholome Blatter and Maria Genovefa Wissmann. Their three sons all became priests. Their daughter Katharina also took her vows in the Benedictine monastery of Fahr.

In the 18th century, various landlords ran the restaurant mostly on the side. They were also lifeguards in the Gontenbad, took care of administrative tasks in the district and served as church caretakers. From 1793 Anton Joseph Fässler, known as “Müllers-Stanzli”, probably catered for guests in the Bären.
His nickname came from his time as a miller at the Rohrersmühle (today’s location of the Jakobsbad spa). In 1816 the widowed former Bären landlady Maria Magdalena Joseph Dominika Signer ran the house for two years.

Subsequently, there were various changes of tenant and owner until the 112-year-long era of Gmünder began in 1895. Johann Karl Gmünder bought the inn for 21,000 Swiss francs and a tip of 100 Swiss francs. The last generation, Charly and Silvia Gmünder, took over the management in 1980. At the end of the 1990s, the restaurant was always awarded 15 points by GaultMillau. In 2009, Charly Gmünder had the honour of cooking for all the Federal Councillors at the Bernerhof in Berne at the end of the presidential year of Federal Councillor Hans-Rudolf Merz.

In addition, the Bären was a highly respected training company under the aegis of Silvia and Charly Gmünder. Around 80 young people completed a vocational apprenticeship with them.

After an extensive renovation in 2007, the Bären changed owners. Dr. oec. Hans-Ulrich Dörig continued the renovation and the striking conversion while protecting the listed main building. A decor in red, yellow and black was consistently chosen for the dining rooms – in the style of the traditional costume of Appenzell. After Dörig’s death, the business closed down temporarily in 2013 and was sold.

The new owner is Hotel Bären Gonten AG. After extensive renovation in 2015 and an investment-intensive extension in 2020, the hotel now has a total of 25 boutique rooms and suites in Appenzell chic.

History of the bear Gonten is still being written.