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Why are so many Swiss restaurants called “Sternen”?

Swiss Restaurant Mark - Sternen

Sure, restaurant signs are a common thing around the world. (Even the Romans had them.)

But the historical background of such signs is slightly different here in Switzerland. Being a Germanic culture, hospitality has always meant “no strings attached”. In other words, hosting someone was not done with a commercial intention.

Back in time, there were no street names or numbers for someone to navigate through a town. Instead, each house has its own name. So when it came to picking a name for a tavern or a drinking hole, the name of the house was often adopted. (For proof, look around a typical Swiss old town and you will see plenty of houses with names painted on them.)

Swiss Restaurant Mark - Bear
Swiss Restaurant Mark - Krone

But why the star as a sign for a restaurant?

There is an easy answer: The star was a symbol for the guild of brewers, and it was considered a lucky charm. Starting in the 13th century, when there was a batch of fresh beer at a tavern, the restaurant owner (who was also a brewer) would hang a sign outside to attract customers: A star, or “Stern” in German.

Still today, there are 230 Swiss restaurants carrying the name “Sternen”, putting it in fifth place after “Rössli”, “Bahnhof”, “Löwen” and “Kreuz”.

Swiss Restaurant Mark - Sternen-01(Source:

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators. Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.

Dimitri Burkhard

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