Never before has Oslo’s classic restaurant Theatercaféen raked in so much money as it did last Wednesday. The champagne, wine, beer and akevitt flowed freely, to the tune of NOK 1.2 million in the course of an evening.
The memorable evening of December 15, 2010 symbolized that the finance crisis is indeed over in Oslo, reported newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). This year’s julebordsesongen (holiday party season) has shaped up to be the best in many years.
The newly remodelled, Viennese-style Theatercaféen has long been a stalwart of the festive season, solidly booked from mid-October until Christmas Eve and famed for its lutefisk and other holiday fare. This year the restaurant across the street from the National Theater has stayed open until 2am, a move that clearly boosted revenues.
“It’s nice that our guests can sit at their tables a bit longer, instead of having to head out into the cold,” Hilde Lystad, manager of Theatercaféen, told DN. Many of the guests are brokers, lawyers and celebrities who clearly like to “see and be seen.”
Among them was high-profile funds manager Jan Petter Sissener, who treated the brokers in First Securities to a holiday lunch one day last week. He was back for dinner, telling DN he was at Theatercaféen “seven or eight times in December.”
Shipowner John Fredriksen is another regular customer, known for holding court at a round table known as “Kharg Island” because of all the tankers Fredriksen runs in and out of the Persian Gulf.
Customers bought around 50 bottles of Dom Perignon champagne price at up to NOK 3,000 each (USD 500) last Wednesday, while one customer paid NOK 10,000 for a bottle of red Bordeaux wine from 1994. The average bill per guest was around NOK 2,600.
Spreading the wealth
Other restaurants have also been reporting full houses this autumn and early winter, with Wallmans Salonger in Oslo breaking all earlier records for revenues and reporting average bills of NOK 1,700 per guest. Ekeberg Restaurant, perched on a hill on Oslo’s east side with a commanding view over the city and down the fjord, reported revenues up 12.3 percent over last year.
“We’ve had full house and the popular dates for next year’s season are already filling up,” Julie Myrann of Ekeberg told DN.
Gourmet restaurant Feinschmecker in Oslo’s Frogner also reported a 12 percent jump in revenues, while Le Canard was fully booked until December 22.
Business is brisk outside Oslo as well, with Britannia Hotel in Trondheim reporting its best julebord season ever and revenues hitting NOK 960,000 on December 11. “We’ve celebrated breaking records several times this autumn,” said managing director Jens Suul Andersskog.
Eric Saudan of Bellevue Restaurant in Bergen summed up his julebord season in one word: “Hallelujah.” He said revenues were up as much as 15 percent.