Today, chef René Redzepi announced that he would temporarily shutter his landmark restaurant Noma in Copenhagen because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As a team that has service and hospitality in our very DNA, we want nothing more than to continue on with business as usual – welcoming guests into our home, cooking and feeding them, and offering them a moment of escape from all that is going on in the world.
However, with all that we know and continue to learn about the virus, and scientific evidence urging us all to reduce non-essential social contact, we are making the most difficult decision to temporarily close restaurant noma until Tuesday 14th April at the earliest.
Redzepi notes that staff will be paid until the restaurant closes later today, and that the costs of supplementary private health care (including mental health care) will continue to be covered while Noma is shuttered. Where possible, Redzepi says, the restaurant plans to offer short-term financial assistance. Finally, staff will be given three meals a day to take home, although it’s not entirely clear how that will work.
With the decision to close, Redzepi joins the ranks of prominent restaurateurs like Daniel Boulud and Danny Meyer who have decided to shut their doors to weather the pandemic. Noma is a destination restaurant; as travelers around the world cancel plans or find themselves facing whole travel bans, destination restaurants will surely face quieter dining rooms in the weeks ahead if they choose to remain open.
Redzepi’s thinking around how guests can continue to support the restaurant lines up with what’s being seen in America as restaurants navigate the crisis. “These will be difficult times,” he says. “On behalf of our industry, and to our guests and guests of restaurants all around the world, if you wish to help, rather than cancel you could perhaps postpone your reservations to a later date or even buy a gift card to support your favourite restaurant.”
Fine dining restaurants not readily prepared to pivot into delivery and takeaway options are at a crossroads. With someone as prominent as Redzepi making the choice to close, expect more to follow.
Watch the chef’s statement below: