When Franz and Anni Zauner close the door of their inn tomorrow, Sunday, there will be a lot of melancholy. The traditional inn in the center of Neuhofen is still open today and tomorrow before it will close after around 65 years of family ownership. There is no time to think about the closure this weekend: the tavern is almost fully booked, everyone wants to enjoy the Zauner hospitality again.
In 1957 Franz Zauner’s father took over what was then the Gasthaus Fellner. Even as a small boy, the dining room was the actual living room for Neuhofner. “Back then I almost always stood in the inn, so it was clear to me from an early age that I would one day be the innkeeper here.” Zauner kept his word, on February 1, 1985 he took over his parents’ inn.
“Host must like people”
It is not surprising that he met his wife, who worked for his father and has been in the restaurant business for 46 years, in the inn. “At some point we got on well,” says Franz Zauner and smiles.
- Video: Interview with Franz Zauner
The two are passionate hosts, you can tell that in every moment of the conversation. “An innkeeper has to like people, that’s the be-all and end-all. You have to be able to swallow a lot and then work when many others are free, but that never bothered us. We’ve met so many people over the years. From these Acquaintances have resulted in a number of friendships,” says Zauner.
“It’s getting close”
The well-being of his employees was always important to him. Although the landlords informed the staff about the closure several months ago, the employees are on board until the last day. “That’s nice, the human contact with our great staff was always a big concern for us,” says Zauner, who also says a big thank you to the regular guests.
“We probably had more than 80 percent regular guests who have remained loyal to us for so long. That cannot be taken for granted and I would simply like to say thank you for that. There were guests who had tears in their eyes and asked us to continue. That’s getting close.” It has been clear for a number of years that his son, who has a very good job in upscale gastronomy in Vienna, will not take over the inn. “I fully understand this decision. Basically, I didn’t look for another successor anymore. I almost prefer it if it’s no longer a tavern, because otherwise I might not have been able to close it completely again,” says Zauner. The property has now been sold to a construction company from the Ried district. Franz and Anni Zauner will move into a new house in Neuhofen in the course of the year.
When the two talk about the end of the long inn era, you realize how difficult this step is for them. But it is the right one. “The decision is the right one, even if we have a lot of sadness about it. We were passionate about it every day. But now we want to relax and spend more time with our two grandchildren. We built a house, We are looking forward to this new phase of life. The past two years have been a very special challenge due to the corona pandemic. Times are not getting any easier for the innkeepers,” emphasize the Zauners.
Passion SV Ried
When Franz Zauner hears the word “SV Ried”, his heart leaps. “This is our heart club and will always remain so. Even my mother was affectionately called ‘Omi?’ by the players,” says the 60-year-old. After the Rieder cup victory in 1998, we left the Rieder folk festival at 4.30 a.m. and went to the inn. “I really couldn’t help myself. They grabbed me left and right, put me in a taxi and off we went to Neuhofen. The inn was booming, we celebrated, these are wonderful memories.”
“Franz and Anni were always there for SV Ried,” says former player and long-time club employee Leo Kiesenhofer. “I’ve been to Zauner countless times, but I can’t remember that Franz or Anni was in a bad mood just once,” says Michael Angerschmid, assistant coach at Eintracht Frankfurt, who is coming to Neuhofen again this afternoon would like to enjoy one last grill plate. For the Rieder Kicker, this has been the team quarters before the games for decades.
For Ernst Happel “a magician”
For many years the opponents of SV Ried were billeted in the Gasthof Zauner. Trainer legend Ernst Happel knew how to compliment Anni Zauner indirectly. About 35 years ago, Happel said to Franz Zauner: “Herst Zauberer, how did you get to the woman?” For the “magician” and his Anni, a new phase of life begins tomorrow evening, in Neuhofen a long inn era is coming to an end.
You can find a video and interview with Franz Zauner online at nachrichten.at/innviertel