The Biedermeier-style restaurant Zunfthaus zur Waag, is conveniently located at the Fraumünster square in the heart of Zurich. The wonderful and historic Guildhall belongs to the advertising guild of the same name. In addition to an à la carte restaurant on the second floor, the guildhall offers banqueting facilities with seating for 12, 60 or 120 guests, and it is open 365 days a year.
Under the skilled direction of restaurateurs Sandra and Sepp Wimmer, Zunfthaus zur Waag was awarded 13 points by Gault Millau in October 2005.
Until recently, many people in and around Zürich were totally unaware that in the Guildhall of Waag not only guild members may wine and dine and celebrate their festivities. Rich in tradition and history the Guildhall of Waag is open to all who would like to enjoy and appreciate a fine, authentic whilst innovative cuisine of the highest quality.
The Wimmers changed this lack of awareness with slogans like Guildhall of Party, Guildhall of Turbot, Guildhall of Discovery, etc. The Guildhall of Waag established a strong counterbalance to the tidal wave of trendy hot spots, drawing the true elite and avant-garde with truth and authenticity. And what would be more authentic in Zurich than a Guildhall. The Gildhall's experience and knowledge is drawn from not decades, but centuries of catering to discerning guests, used to the highest culinary expectations.
The restaurant serves traditional Zürich-style chopped meat with kidney of veal – a must for all fans of solid, old-fashioned cooking. The wine list boasts a selection of all the grape varieties grown on the shores of Lake Zürich.
Since October 2004 the restaurant is under the management of Sepp and Sandra Wimmer.
Sepp Wimmer: Born in Austria in 1960, Mr. Wimmer studied at the School of Hotel Management in Salzburg. Thereafter he applied and extended his skills in the parental business in Austria. By 1984 he was offered his first engagement as director of the Hotel Sternen in Unterwasser, Toggenburg. Then followed management positions in Buochs (Director of the 4-star lakehotel Rigiblick, 1987-1992), in Küsnacht (Director of the lakehotel Sonne, 1993-2000) and in Zurich, where he helped build the Restaurant Terrasse (2000/2001). Since 2001 Sepp Wimmer runs a gastronomy consulting firm.
According to Sepp Wimmer, host and manager of the Zunfthaus Zur Waag, "quality may neither be purchased nor forced, but must be set by example. It is my declared intention to show each customer the same courtesy and hospitality I welcome, when I am a guest."
The strikingly large facade of the Zunfthaus zur Waag stands in contrast to the other houses, which are tall and narrow in comparison. The arched portal carries an ornate barock cartouche depicting ist construction date MDCXXXVI (1636). Two broad tuscan pillasters frame the carved front door and support its arch. Higher up, an open-topped pediment displays the guild's coat of arms: a golden scale on a blue background, embellished by decorative scrollwork.
The large Guild Hall on the third floor takes up the entire width of the facade. Among the most remarkable elements of this room are a collection of 14 stained glass paintings and an oil painting by Heinrich Bodmer, depicting the poet and guildsman J. M. Usteri (1763-1827).
Zunft-Saal (guild hall) – Eat and drink like in the old world.
The showpiece of the house is the large wood-panelled Zunft-Saal. It is here, that the Zunft zur Waag celebrates its big occasions: the Sechseläuten and the Martinimahl. For the remaining 363 days of the year the hall is reserved for guests. The guildhall can host up to 120 people.
Zunft-Stube – Meals near a tiled stove. The many colored coat of arms discs in the windows and the old Egger-tiled stove, bring back the year 1726 and the age of industrial awakening. The Zunft-Stube hosts up to 60 people for banquets, family events or presentations.
Waag-Stübli – Snugness on a personal scale. A meal on a more personal scale (only up to 14 people) is especially charming in the cozy Waagstübli. It is entirely panelled in walnut wood. Furthermore, it is decorated with coat of arms discs and Zurich old town views in the windows, which add a historic touch.
Terrace – A culinary extravaganza under the open skies. May until October in fair weather, the culinary delights from can be enjoyed on the summer terrace located right on the Münster square.
In 1287, Michel, a bourgeois from Zurich, built a house on today's site of the Zunfthaus zur Waag. Michel's house was later passed on to the children of the knight and sheriff Heinrich Biber. They in turn sold it in 1303 to the three daughters of the deceased Knight Heinrich von Weinfelden.
In 1315 the house was aquired by Master Peter Schmid, a doctor and pharmacist from Brienz in upper Valais. There is speculation that there might be a connection between his profession as a pharmacist and the house symbol - the scale (Waag). He donated the house to the Mary-Magdalen Altar in Grossmünster.
In 1385 the Chaplain of the Altar sold the house for 108 florins to Ulrich Lüthold of the linen weavers' guild. As of 1436 the house was known as the "Weber Trinkstube zur Waag" or "the weavers' tab-room zur Waag." It soon became the meeting place for the guild members of the linen weavers and the wool weavers (who merged guilds in 1440). The Waag is one of the seven last guilds that owned its own guildhouse.
To enlarge the old building, the guild acquired the neighboring house to the East "zum geilen Mönch" in 1630.
In 1636, the two houses were taken down and replaced by today's beautiful guild house the "Zunfthaus zur Waag" (1636/37).
Architecturally the style of the guild house is predominantly renaissance. Yet the windows, for instance, show a gothic influence. Following the downfall of the old confederacy in 1798 and the end of the guild regiment, the Zunfthaus zur Waag was passed on to private hands. However, the guild managed to repurchase it in 1828.
In 1862 the stairs were renovated, and so was the parquet floor (1873 and 1878). In 1899 and 1909 the facade was renovated in its entirety. The origin of the disc with the the guildhall coat of arms dates to 1921-23. In 1935 the entrance hall, the stairwell and the restaurant experienced extensive renovation.