While some enjoy a beer in the park, the eateries are empty. The fact that Easter smokes is just the tip of the iceberg for the restaurant brothers Joppe and Markus Gjelseth.
Published: Just updated
An Easter without a beer. There is a crisis for the restaurants, bars and nightlife actors. Easter is often described as the start of the spring and summer season.
At Lekter’n in Oslo, there is usually a good atmosphere when the Easter sun peeks out, but the 1200 seats at Aker Brygge are empty.
– The spring tends to give a huge boost to the employees and an important financial boost to the company, says Markus Gjelseth over the phone from the cabin to E24.
Together with his brother Joppe Gjelseth, he runs the Food and Drink group. The brothers took over the operation from their father in 2019 and run the restaurants Louise, Lekter´n and Albert Bistro at Aker Brygge.
Usually around Easter time, 300 employees would be serving beer and seafood from the restaurants.
– Most of the places located on Aker Brygge have a tough financial period in the first quarter, so we are always dependent on the first start shot, the brothers say.
– Seeing that Easter is now smoking is very heavy after this year. Now I just hope that we get back the liquor license in May and over the summer. We are completely dependent on that period to be able to have a healthy operation, not least for the employees. This is starting to erode a lot, says Joppe Gjelseth.
Takes over the operation of the Food and Drink group after his father
A turbulent year for the family business
At Easter, the Gjelseth brothers have fled up to the cabin on the mountain.
– But we would much rather have run around and served beer to all our customers, they say.
It has been a turbulent year for the Gjelseth family. In Easter 2019 alone, they had a turnover of 7.2 million. Easter this year, the turnover drop is close to 100 percent.
– The last year has been a big financial loss, says Markus Gjelseth.
– Last year we had an ok summer in June and July, before it was very tough again from August. The staff has been taken in and out of layoffs. It has been mentally heavy for the employees. Now we just hope that we can take back all employees as soon as possible, that is the most important thing for us, says Joppe Gjelseth.
– How has it been for you as brothers to be in the middle of this?
– It has gone very well. We have a strong family bond and have supported each other through this, says Markus Gjelseth.
The brothers do not fear bankruptcy for their own company, but are concerned about the employees and other small companies in the same industry.
– We are a large company and have a certain robustness in our economy. We are most concerned about our employees who have been in a very difficult financial year. And of course the smaller players in the industry. There are many who have the knife to their throat now and who will not survive if they are not allowed to open at the beginning of May, they say.
Tests out other concepts
At St. Hanshaugen in Oslo, groups of friends and couples are scattered around the park to have a beer or two. The Outdoor Arrow Restaurant Outdoors has a few, but not paying, guests visiting.
Sven Erik Fuglerud Brastad, communications manager at Eik Enter, which runs the places Outdoors and Bread and Circus, says that they usually do not open the outdoor restaurant until May.
– If, on the other hand, Easter had been later this year, and the pandemic had not been upon us, we could have considered opening earlier, he says.
– There are definitely stricter rules this year than there were last year, so we have to see how things will go, and whether the infection rates flatten out. We believe and hope that things will gradually reopen towards the summer, and then the Outdoors will be first out, due to the outdoors and plenty of space. We hope that the summer will be more like the one we had last year, says Fuglerud Brastad.
He says that Eik Enter, like several others in the industry, is testing other solutions to keep operations going.
– Now that everything is closed, several of us are trying to find other solutions to keep things going. We have done this both to retain our employees, but also to continue to entertain customers. This includes digital entertainment, drive-in cinema at Tryvann, and our digital escape room The Nutcracker, says Fuglerud Brastad.
Still have faith in the spring season
Nightlife stop Karl-Henning Svendsen has previously stated to E24 that “we bleed slowly to death”. Easter is just another line in the bill.
– Closed outdoor cafes during the Easter holidays are of course sad, as most have been for the entire industry through 2020 and not least so far in 2021. At the same time, it is not in the city you know most about this – we feel with our colleagues in the mountains that Easter number two completely disappears, he says.
Svendsen is the leader of Noho Norway, which runs several of Oslo’s largest nightclubs – including Kulturhuset, Prindsens Hage, Oslo Camping, Youngs and Colonel Mustard.
– We must have faith that the spring will be good, so now we are in the process of preparing all our own outdoor cafes and hope that we will be allowed to open in early May, so that we can contribute with good, safe meeting places where infection control and control can ensure a good May 17 celebration for everyone, says Svendsen.
The nightlife actors have to pour several thousand liters of beer straight into the dass: – We bleed slowly to death
More important with the summer season
For the owner of Dattera til Hagen på Grønland in Oslo, Håkon Pettersen, the Easter season is not the most important thing.
– We usually have many guests from March and April, but we are not very worried about the Easter season. We are more concerned with getting to May 17 and through the summer season, he says by phone to E24.
The popular nightclub in Greenland has large outdoor areas, but the outdoor beer often comes later to Dattera.
– It depends on the temperature. If it is hot, the season starts earlier, says Pettersen.
Published: April 3, 2021 11:39 AM
Updated: April 3, 2021 12:42 PM
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