René Redzepi’s Relaunch of Noma Missing Essential Parts

The 80 guests who had opening day reservations were called and told that the restaurant would not be ready for it’s big grand opening.

Last week in Copenhagen, Noma, a two-Michelin-star restaurant by René Redzepi, finally re-opened it’s doors, a full day later than they originally planned. The 80 guests who had opening day reservations were called and told that the restaurant would not be ready for it’s big grand opening. When Noma finally served its first guests the day after, on February 16, they were scrambling to get it all done.

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A difficult deadline was set when, months before construction even ended, Noma started to book it’s first diners. As the deadline drew closer, the staff grew fearful that they would not be able to make that first week of service work. The restaurant was a mess, with missing windows, a dining room without a ceiling and a delay in kitchen parts arriving. Even though the staff worked day and night in the days leading up to the opening, they were still missing essential parts.

Yet come Wednesday the 14th, it began to seem as if everything was back on-track for the opening on the 23rd. The staff was still running around and frantically trying to put all the pieces together but it looked like they would make it to that first lunch service. The day of, mere hours before the first guests would arrive, the walkway was still being constructed and Redzepi himself was raking mulch outside.

Photo credit: facebook/nomacph

The pressures of the restaurant started even before construction and opening week. The finances caused more problems than they anticipated as the rent for the space was extremely high since it includes 11 different buildings, and the construction budget went way over what it originally entailed. After the restaurant’s closing in February of 2017, Redzepi decided to keep the staff on payroll until it’s relaunch which only added to the financial burden.

Noma’s tasting menu price starts at a hefty $375. A quarter of that goes towards the cost of food, so in order to make a profit, every seat in the restaurant must be sold each day. Noma divides their menu into 3 seasons per year, which each season having its own menu. The original debut season of seafood sold out in less than 24 hours, so the seat situation shouldn’t be a problem.

While Noma ended up having its grand opening, the restaurant is not yet complete. Minor details like landscaping, adding a few additional tables, or reworking hours still need to be figured out. Yet René Redzepi does not regret opening when he did, even with the scramble to get it done.

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