Gostilna Slovenija is a trademark

Januar 2012

In Slovenia, typical restaurants have always played a special role. They are not only the places where one can experience the local culinary offer, but have always been an important component part of the Slovenian heritage and culinary recognition. From now on, they will also be presented under the new trademarkGostilna Slovenija’, which is new to the Slovenian hospitality industry.

Photo: Jezeršek archive

Since the end of September 2011, restaurants that satisfy the strict rules and criteria of the trademark have been marked with uniform restaurant signs and boards, the mark of the new trademark. But this concerns only those restaurants that satisfy the rules and criteria for obtaining this mark and trademark. They must satisfy the conditions as regards external and internal arrangement of rooms, while in their offer, the food of the house, local and regional dishes prevail, as well as appropriate food and food products of local producers, food with protected appellation of origin, organic food, appropriate music scenery, service methods, and a variety of other components that contribute to the justification of use of the trademark and Gostilna Slovenija brand. The Gostilna Slovenija project was carried out by the Section for Hospitality and Tourism at the Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia. So far, the right to use the Gostilna Slovenija trademark has been granted to 29 Slovenian restaurants.

And where did the idea for the formation of such a trademark come from?

Photo: Jezeršek archive

Martin Jezeršek from the Hiša kulinarike Jezeršek (Jezeršek Culinary House), who wrote the development strategy Gostilne na Slovenskem (Restaurants in Slovenia) as a part of his study and thus launched the Gostilna Slovenija project, says that this is a somewhat comprehensive regulation of the restaurant offer in our country. This has been an idea floating around for a relatively long time. ‘The idea for the trademark originated from the desire for a change and regulation of the situation in the catering activity in Slovenia, which was extremely chaotic. It is very usual that restaurants offer everything but Slovenian dishes, while their ambient and architectural arrangements lack any character. In the past, restaurants in Slovenia have lost their identity, which the Gostilna Slovenija project tries to return,’ says Jezeršek.

Gostilna Slovenija is thus becoming our regulated and distinguished product. It strictly respects the provisions of sustainable development, and in particular, enables better culinary and gastronomic recognisability of Slovenia on the world map.

The offer of Slovenian restaurants was formed under the influence of the interesting historical development and a variety of tastes at the juncture of the Alps, Mediterranean and Pannonian Plain. Usually, they were developed as characteristic family restaurant activities. In Slovenian, their name ‘gostilna’ (restaurant) is associated with the word ‘gost(guest) and, particularly, hospitality of landlords who invited guests to explore various flavours of their house, local, regional, Slovenian and selected international dishes in association with the wine, mostly from all three Slovenian vine-growing regions.

Gostilna Slovenija trademark in practice

Photo: Jezeršek archive

A restaurant that acquires the Gostilna Slovenija title must satisfy clearly set minimum criteria for obtaining the mark. Simply put, a restaurant is on the right path to forming its own identity in accordance with the general identity of a restaurant in Slovenia, offer mostly dishes and beverages of Slovenian origin and reach the quality that is verified by the expert commission, explains Martin Jezeršek. The restaurant that complies with these standards is engaged in a number of promotional activities that provide for its better recognisability in the market and attracts new guests. 

Membership in the association also involves numerous obligations and opportunities. ‘Restaurants can take part in various training courses that aim at raising the overall quality of offer of restaurants in the association. But they must, at the same time, gradually raise their own quality of offer, which must always satisfy the minimum criteria that will be subject to changes and become even more stringent,' explains Jezeršek. But this does not mean that a restaurant that obtained the mark has been awarded a medal that will forever remain on the shelf. The Gostilna Slovenija mark can be withdrawn from a restaurant that no longer satisfies the minimum criteria.

What does the trademark mean for a guest?

Photo: Jezeršek archive

‘A guest who visits an English pub knows what he can expect. A guest who visits a restaurant with a Michelin star knows what he can expect. A guest who visits a Chinese restaurant knows what he can expect. But until today, a guest who visited the restaurant did not know what to expect. From a restaurant that prides itself with the Gostilna Slovenija mark and sign, a guest may expect a wholesome experience in Slovenian gastronomy. This includes many traditional and contemporary restaurant and gastronomic elements, such as quality, dishes and beverages of Slovenian origin, seasonalisation of offer, ambient and architectural arrangement, and after all, family management,’ explains Jezeršek. The recognisability of the Gostilna Slovenija mark is still at a rather low level, particularly among foreign guests. Therefore, Slovenia has the task of increasing the recognisability of the Gostilna Slovenija mark at home and abroad. The Slovenian Tourist Organisation takes a very active part in the establishment of this trademark. 

This trademark could help Slovenia to increase its gastronomic recognisability abroad. The long-term aim of the Gostilna Slovenija project is clear. As every visitor in England knows what a pub is and what it looks like, every visitor of our country should know the meaning of the word restaurant. ‘This goal can be achieved, but is still very far away. Restaurants should first become the most important part of gastronomic recognisability of Slovenia. Promotion of prekmurska gibanica and kranjska klobasa can be of no benefit for us if a guest who visits Slovenia does not know where to taste them,’ adds Martin Jezeršek. Restaurants are the basis of the gastronomic recognisability of Slovenia; therefore, restaurants and the Gostilna Slovenija project may be the starting point for the presentation of Slovenian gastronomy abroad.

In Slovenia, there are more than 3,000 catering facilities, among which the most are restaurants. Restaurants are places for meeting with people and enjoying culinary experiences; they bear the character of their keepers. This all has an influence on the overall quality, which is the basic characteristic of every true and particularly good restaurant. Its characteristics are general arrangement and appropriate internal fitting, traditional hospitality as well as top and variegated culinary offer with wine and other beverages. The offer of Slovenian restaurants reflects our national kitchen, which is a combination of culinary historical memory (heritage) and searches for contemporary culinary directions and methods.

Text by Polona Prešeren, M.Sc., Sinfo, January 2012 

Photo: Jezeršek archive