Oslo’s legendary Grand Café, once the hangout for such artists and literary figures as Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun, will reopen as a café in its same groundfloor corner location at the Grand Hotel. Its new operator, who runs several other successful Oslo-area restaurants, hopes to be able to welcome guests before this year’s Christmas season begins.
That’s good news for Grand Café fans and historians who rued its closure last year after 141 years of operation, and worried that the locale could reemerge as anything from a clothing store to a car dealership. Those were among options for the hotel’s owners, who felt a need to “start with a clean slate” after deciding to close the old café because of poor reviews and poor financial results.
Now it’s confirmed that the wall murals and many other historical aspects of the place where Henrik Ibsen ate lunch almost every day will be preserved. New operator Bjørn Tore Furset of Fursetgruppen told newspaper Aftenposten, though, that the interior otherwise will be renovated as will the menu.
Furset is best known for running such popular and successful restaurants as Ekebergrestaurangen, Festningen at the Akershus Fortress and Ingierstrand bad, all of which were cultural treasures restored to their former or new glory. Furset also runs the Lofoten and Sjømagasin restaurants at Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen and is also among those behind Maaemo, which just won three stars in the Michelin Guide Book.
“We are so glad,” Furset told Aftenposten. “We were in negotiations for awhile and it wasn’t a given that it would be us. Now we’re both humbled and proud to take over this location.” He said he and his team would “draw inspiration” from reviewing the history of the café, also old menus from other era. The hotel itself is also undergoing extensive renovations, due to be complete later this year.