There was reason for optimism at a recent communal meeting in Gsteig: a new tenant couple for the Bären has been hired to reopen the restaurant in December.
The question of what to do with the Bären has been on the local communal agenda for some time. After past attempts by various tenants to make a success of the restaurant failed, the future of the Bären looked uncertain.
Doubting whether the Bären could be profitably managed at all, the Gsteig commune hired Gastro Bern, the cantonal employers' association for restoration and hotel business, to carry out a situation and operational analysis. To the surprise of everyone, the expert assessment revealed that there is potential for the Bären to be managed profitably as a gastro and hotel business.
Just in time for the winter high season
A number of people responded to the call for new tenants and the experienced host couple Christian and Gabi Hefti-Felber were selected as the best fit to breathe new life into the restaurant. The two currently lead the restaurant at the Baldegg lake resort in canton Lucerne. Since Christian Hefti-Felber is originally from Gsteig, taking over the Bären will be a sort of “home coming” for him. His wife Gabi Hefti-Felber is also no stranger to the Saanenland: she gained valuable catering and hotel industry experience in establishments across the region. Since the high season on Lake Baldegg is currently in full swing, the Hefti-Felbers will only begin working at the Bären in the Fall in time for a December reopening, just in time for the winter high season.
Renovations to reduce long term costs
Tom Schild, vice president of the city council and responsible for real estate, explained that the Gsteig commune will use the time before the new tenants’ arrival to carry out some renovation work so that the restaurant is handed over to them in the best possible condition. The work will include the installation of a new goods lift as well as renovating the outdated ventilation system which will help reduce long-term operating costs.
Gsteig’s president of the city council, Markus Willen, was optimistic about the new hosts: “This time, we are confident to have found a long-term solution for the Bären.”
Anne Christine Kempton / AvS