There’s a rescue underway at San Francisco’s sole Swiss fondue restaurant, the Matterhorn, which closed last year to the dismay of regulars. Longtime owners Brigitte and Andrew Thorpe stuck a long fork in their business last fall, retiring after more than 25 years on Van Ness. But fortunately for lovers of melted cheese, new operators are taking their place, reviving the Matterhorn with an opening planned for September.
Natalie and Jason Horwath are now in charge of the space at 2323 Van Ness, which they’ll run as both a restaurant and a bakery. The married couple are fondue enthusiasts who lived for a few years in Switzerland, and previously ran SF fondue and raclette pop-up Sbrinz.
Right now, the Horwaths are busy making updates to the Matterhorn’s kitchen and dining room, adding an oven in which they’ll bake their own naturally leavened bread for cheese-dipping. They’ll also turn out more baked goods like pretzels and pastries for daytime sales. They’ll source cheeses directly from farms throughout Switzerland and France, and to fill out the menu, they’ll incorporate cuisines from other alpine regions in Europe.
The Horwarths are also making a few aesthetic updates to the space “to create the best and most authentically alpine dining experience possible.” It’s already a fairly immersive chalet experience thanks to the building’s landlord, a Swiss national, who opened the Matterhorn himself in 1987 before turning over operations to the Thorpes. He imported the dining room’s knotty pine wood from Switzerland, building out the walls and booths of the restaurant himself.
Now, to really punctuate that Alpine feel, the Horwaths have purchased a gondola chair, which they’ll treat as a booth at the restaurant. When the Matterhorn reopens this September, hours will be Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., with morning hours for coffee and pastry from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.