Bagatelle, Norway’s first restaurant to ever win two stars in the Michelin Guide, has closed its doors after losing millions in recent years despite its high menu prices. Owner Christen Sveaas, who saved the restaurant from bankruptcy in 1996, called the closure “very sad.”
Sveaas, a wealthy investor with a keen interest in gourmet food and wine, has been instrumental in keeping the restaurant going by plowing millions into it year after year. Sveaas told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Wednesday that a lot had been “invested from the heart” as well, “so this is very sad.”
After years of covering losses while the restaurant was under the culinary management of top chef Eyvind Hellstrøm, Sveaas and Hellstrøm had a highly publicized feud that ended with Hellstrøm quitting in a burst of bad temper. Sveaas then closed the restaurant for remodeling and reopened it three years ago along with a smaller bistro-type restauant next door called Lille B. It has enjoyed full bookings both at lunch and dinner and will remain open adjacent to Bagatelle’s long-time location on Oslo’s fashionable Bygdøy allé.
Sveaas hailed Hellstrøm for his contribution in earlier years. Hellstrøm, who went on to work in TV, had no comment. Some claim that Bagatelle never regained its appeal without Hellstrøm and Sveaas admitted “we just couldn’t make it work.” DN had just recently reported that pre-tax losses last year alone amounted to NOK 10.9 million, compared to NOK 9.9 million the year before that.