Famed restaurant forced to close

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Bagatelle, once one of Oslo’s most exclusive restaurants, had to close its doors this week after losing its wine and liquor license. Restaurant owners blame the loss on what appears to be bureaucratic paperwork tied to an ownership reorganization.

Bagatelle has long been owned by Christen Sveaas, an investor, industrialist and philanthropist who also takes a keen interest in food and wine. For years, he financially supported the expensive efforts of Bagatelle’s founder and chef Eyvind Hellstrøm to make Bagatelle Oslo’s top gourmet restaurant. At one point the restaurant could boast two Michelin stars.

Sveaas and Hellstrøm, both known for being strong personalities, finally got into a highly public quarrel two years ago and Hellstrøm quit in a huff in December 2009. The restaurant closed for more than a year while Sveaas searched for a new chef to take over after what he called a “mutiny.”

It re-opened with a new staff and new concept, offering lunch as well as dinner, but reviews have been lukewarm. Now it can’t serve wine from its famous cellar, a result of ownership share transfers between Sveaas’ companies that apparently nullified its liquor license even though the companies’ ownership was, according to Bagatelle management, identical.

The management has now applied for a new liquor license, but decided to close and lay off staff while it’s being processed.

Views and News staff