Tina and Eric Kragh Vildgaard of restaurant Jordnær, a two Michelin star restaurant created inside a humble three-starred hotel in the suburbs of Copenhagen have been reflecting a lot over the past months during the time that restaurants have been closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the Danish government announced the date of the reopening of restaurants on May 6th, the restaurant will open only four days a week and in particular not on the weekend making it one of the only restaurants in Scandinavia, if not the only one to take this road.
This is not being done out of necessity but a deliberate choice to seek a better and healthier balance between work and personal/family life that results in a happier, more motivated, well-rested and creative team.
“We have 6 kids and they are getting older and older. They always participate in all kinds of activities during the weekends and we never get to be there because we chose to be in this industry. So why not try it?.”
“From the very beginning we were open 7 days a week and we quickly realised that we wouldn’t be able to keep that pace up. Then we changed to five days a week, but we were working at 80% of our capacity and never reached the goal that I had. At that point, two years ago, we agreed upon a change to four days and to push ourselves to 100%. That became our routine and it’s worked great for some time now”, Eric Vildgaard says.
The goal is for the restaurant to keep growing and evolving without sacrificing the wellbeing of the team and their families and although it’s not a common thing in the extremely demanding reality of the hospitality industry, there are other examples out there.
“We have two families. The one at home and our family at work. We’re a very demanding workplace, with high standards. But as hard as we push our work family, we also need to keep them motivated. We want for all of us to have a better life in general.”
Other changes are coming to the restaurant this year. Eric is working on a healthier menu with more and more focus on vegetables on the horizon, as well as a push to make the whole operation as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.
“Even though we’re still going through a hard time with COVID, we try to keep the spirit high by looking ahead and thinking of ways we can be better. So another change will be to change the whole perspective on how we cook to make it more sustainable for the environment as well as healthier and plant based for our guests. They are demanding it and we want to give them what they want to eat, in our way”, he ends.
Jordnær is accoladed with two stars within just three years by Guide Michelin, the Michelin Nordic Countries Welcome & Service Awards, and ranked as No. 40 by The Best Chef Awards. as a first entry.