BÄREN WRITES HISTORY – SINCE CENTURIES!
Our medieval cellar vault and the centuries old wooden beams in the Bären demonstrate this: this house has been an important part of Gonten, the small Appenzell village, since a long time.
The Bären is the oldest private building in Gonten that still exists today. The early days of the Bären are unknown, but it might reasonably be assumed that the first restaurant at the current location was operated in the middle of the 15th century.
The restaurant "Bären" with the designation still used today was first mentioned in a document in 1751.
The innkeepers of 1751 were called Johann Bartholome Blatter and Maria Genovefa Wissmann. Their three sons all became priests. Also their daughter, Katharina, took her oath in the Fahr Benedictine monastery.
None of the prior innkeepers could be determined seamlessly. Likely Johann Joseph Neff was innkeeper of the Bären from 1767–1768. During that time, he was also pool attendant in the Gonten bath "Gontenbad".
From 1768–1780, Johann Jakob Rechsteiner (1742–1797), nicknamed "Bäre-Nöck", was innkeeper of the Bären. He was captain of Rhode Stechlenegg and was Bailiff Sheriff (Reichsvogt) in Appenzell Innerhoden.
Karl Anton Broger (1754–1797), "Hopme-Töni", was Bären innkeeper from 1783–1793 and during that time was also captain of Rhode Gonten and church administrator of Gonten.
Anton Joseph Fässler (1754–1829), nicknamed "Müllers-Stanzli", likely also catered for the guests of the Bären. He got his nickname for having been a miller ("Müller") at the Rohrer Mill (today the location of the Jakobsbad spa house) before his time at the Bären. Centrepiece of the excellent chef Patron.
In 1816, Broger's widow Maria Magdalena Joseph Dominika Signer (1787–1858) took over the management of the Bären for two years.
In the following years, there were several tenant and owner changes until the Gmünder era began in Gonten on 16 May 1895. Johann Karl Gmünder (1865–1933) bought the inn at a price of 21000 francs and a gratuity of 100 francs. The Gmünder era lasted 112 years and seven and a half months.
One of their descendants, the oldest son Charly, took over management of the Bären together with his wife Mrs Silvia on 9 July 1980. His father was pleased when Charly Gmünder continued their tradition both in culinary and musical respects. In the end 1990ies he always received 15 points from Gault Millau. In 1998 the Bären even made an appearance in the Weltwoche weekly newspaper's list of the 200 best restaurants in Switzerland. In 2009 Charly Gmünder had the honour of serving all Federal Council (Bundesrat) members and Hans-Rudolf Merz in the "Bernerhof" in Bern for the occasion of the completion of the presidential year.
Under the aegis of Silvia and Charly Gmünder the Bären was a prestigious training location. About 80 young men and women have attended an apprenticeship with them. Many of them are now successful innkeepers themselves.
After a comprehensive reconstruction in 2007, the Bären found a new owner in Dr. oec. Hans-Ulrich Dörig. Dörig had the Bären significantly reconstructed in 2011 and 2012 while preserving its protected original building. The West Wing (hotel tract) was completely renovated. The decoration in the Bären consequently follows the Appenzell Senne traditional costume in the colours red, yellow and black. The reopening was celebrated on 1 May 2012, but on 25 November 2012 Hans-Ulrich Dörig left us after long sickness.
On 3 November 2013 the operation temporarily closed. Since then, the Bären has changed hands. The "Hotel Bären Gonten AG" is the new owner. After comprehensive renovation in 2015, the hotel offers eight new and lovingly created Boutique rooms with Appenzell chic. Thus, the story of the Bären continues...