TEXT: Renate Breuß and Marina Hämmerle
Two restless go-getters have given Feldkirch and the surrounding region a new culinary highlight, and their other dining concepts command quite a bit of attention, too. The influence the two young gastronomers René Gmeiner and Kassian Xander have had on the renovation of the Jahnhalle and the ideas they have contributed to it are nothing short of impressive. Built in 1904 by the Viennese architect Ernst Dittrich, the Jahn sports hall is a striking monument to the turn of the century. While it stands a little marginalised in the new urban quarter today, its eventful history and internal life are all the more momentous. Within the scope of the renovation project, architect Wolfgang Ritsch successfully converted the hall into a mixed-use space featuring a sturdy gallery, whose free-standing, black steel frame still reveals some glimpses of the unique wooden beams and structural wires supporting the roof.
The design-savvy owners have artfully lined up lush indoor plants, USM Haller shelves, and velvet and leather lounge suites from the Sixties and Seventies to divide the spacious, high-ceilinged room into multiple areas. Large tables beckon groups of visitors to come together and share an XXL pizza or two. Couples appreciate the original bistro tables for their date nights, while the gravel-lined outdoor dining area offers urban summer vibes.
On weekend mornings, the trendy restaurant becomes a social hot spot on par with the likes of Algiers, Amsterdam and Los Angeles as breakfast and brunch aficionados flock to its doors for vegan, vegetarian or conventional dishes. Later, the happy hour attracts cocktail enthusiasts. Bartender Lukas Matt serves up well-rounded traditional concoctions alongside sophisticated in-house specialities, garnished with fresh herbs from the Jahnhalle’s own raised planting beds located just next to the adjacent railway station.
The lush stretch of greenery underneath Schattenburg castle, owned by René Gmeiner’s parents, cools down sweltering summer evenings. Jahnhalle regulars appreciate the relaxed and refined metropolitan atmosphere of the establishment, while its vintage clothing market, well stocked with apparel from all corners of the world, attracts young visitors in search of affordable goods.
In fact, urban wanderers from far beyond Feldkirch are drawn to the reputation of the unusual culinary concept. It is clear that the crew behind the restaurant are well travelled and experienced. Here, the professionals let their guests actively participate in creating a living-room ambiance bursting with history. This is what makes the Jahnhalle such an inviting, one-of-a-kind spot in Vorarlberg.