Fred Tschanz – a fairy tale career in Zurich's hospitality industry

A modest childhood

Born into humble circumstances in 1929, Fred Tschanz’s career route reads like a fairy tale. Despite dreams to become a concert pianist, his path took him to the Hotel Management School in Lausanne – where he covered his expenses with part-time jobs as his mother was unwilling to accept a grant.

Return to Switzerland and founding a company

After twelve years of various assignments abroad, he then returned to Switzerland from the USA as an experienced gastronomist full of ideas. He founded a management society for gastronomic businesses and married young Frenchwoman Gilberte Commaille, with whom he had two daughters: Gilberte and Jacqueline. He was to marry a total of three times – the last marriage dissolved in 2007.

Diverse operations and gastronomic success

The story cumulates with a total of up to twelve bars, hotels and restaurants run by him and his team at one time. His gastronomic career featured not only successes but also failures – but Fred Tschanz always stood up again, true to the spirit of “after rain, the sun will shine; after grief, it’s time to laugh”.

Joie de vivre and passions

He was a bon vivant and passionate lover of music, culture and, of course, all kinds of culinary pleasures. He also loved the company of beautiful women. He was an avid hunter and art collector and, at the age of 80 years, even opened his own art gallery.

The Fred Tschanz operations

In the later years, Fred Tschanz concentrated his enterprise on the following operations, some of which still exist today:

  • The legendary ODEON has been a member of the Fred Tschanz Group since 1972 and was run by the patron with pride and great passion.
  • In 1992 the innovative restaurateur took over the Bauschänzli restaurant and was the first Swiss ever to import the now traditional and well-loved Zurich Oktoberfest. He also introduced the hosting rights for Circus Conelli to the island which today forms a firm component of Zurich’s cultural agenda. The Restaurant Bauschänzli is no longer run by the family business Fred Tschanz.
  • In 1996 Fred Tschanz took the plunge into the hotel industry and bought the three-star hotel Leoneck – famous for its Swiss ethnic design and typical Swiss cuisine. The hotel is now run as a self-check-in hotel under the name Alpine Rooms by Leoneck.
  • The three-star hotel Walhalla was added in 1997 – a modern city hotel with its own two-star guest house which is highly popular with international business people holding conferences. A Starbucks café is now embedded in the hotel.
  • Fred Tschanz‘s “last stroke” and something he had been dreaming of since he was young was the 2009 opening of the gourmet restaurant “Le Chef” at Kanonengasse – right next to the house where he had spent his childhood. He had now come full circle. Today the restaurant is newly tenanted. 
A legacy is carried on

In December 2012 – after 83 eventful years – Fred Tschanz passed peacefully away. However, traces of this characterful patron will long remain visible in many different ways.

Since 2013, the family business has been run by Fred Tschanz's granddaughter, Stéphanie Portmann.

She gained her first experience in the business at the age of 17 as a waitress at Bauschänzli. And during her sociology and business studies at Bern University, Stéphanie also helped out at Bauschänzli in the summer months. After graduating, she studied Hotel Management at Belvoirpark Hotel Management School and subsequently became deputy managing director of Bauschänzli; a year later she assumed full responsibility for its management.

Today, Stéphanie Portmann runs the family business together with her husband Domenic Zembrod and is very grateful to her role model and grandfather Fred Tschanz for all the pieces of wisdom that he passed on to her.