This building, together with the Bethlehem church next door and a number of surrounding buildings, was part of the Bethlehem Monastery of the Augustinian choirmasters. The monastery was founded in 1309 and parts of the basement of Het Refter are still from that time The neighbouring (old) church and Het Refter are two of the oldest buildings in Zwolle.
The name Het Refter is derived from the ‘refectory’ or ‘dining room’ of the monastery. Whether the Refectory served as a dining room is doubtful. But it has had many functions over the years such as guilds meeting room, drill and fencing school, concert hall, barracks, museum, library, grain exchange with wine storage, trade school and now a city café.
People can once again eat together, enjoy one of the assortment of about 300 beers in the original atmosphere of “being together” from the monastery era, and be part of the colourful history of Het Refter.