Norse is Under Threat
Sometimes we walk past restaurants, see that they’re no longer open and it comes as a complete surprise. Often we say “What a shame” and discuss how we didn’t know they were struggling and we might have visited more often if we had been aware. Well, we are in danger of this happening at Norse in the not too distant future.
The period before Christmas (Sep – Nov) was really difficult.
The team have pushed on as ever with the aim of delivering great food and service. Lots of guests have been very happy with their experiences and this continued over last weekend with a really successful New Years Eve event.
Behind the scenes I have been struggling in the knowledge that the numbers haven’t been adding up for us. It’s primarily my job to convince people to step through our doors, and they haven’t been doing that in large enough numbers. There have been some new openings and pressures within the market, but all restaurants have to deal with those, I’ve just not got the formula right.
Norse has grown a reputation as a restaurant to visit for a special occasion where you might eat our tasting menu, which is great but that isn’t enough to make a sustainable business. We need to change and encourage guests to visit more regularly. There is just about enough time to turn it around if we move really fast and get it right.
With the aim of attracting some new guests and tempting some previous guests back we are going to alter our format.
In 2018 we will no longer offer small plates. We’ll move instead to a classic Starter/Main Course/Dessert format. A couple of sides will also be available. We’re aiming for 6 starters and 6 main courses with a choice of 2 x meat, 2 x fish and 2 x veg courses.
We’ll still be able to cater for vegetarians, pescetarians, coeliacs and other dietary requirements as normal.
The early evening and lunch menu will now comprise 3 starters and 3 mains, with a choice of meat, fish and veg in each. They will be priced at £18 for two courses or £22 for three courses, we think this represents great value.
The tasting menu will still be offered at the existing price in its current format.
Style of Food
Over the last few years we have struggled to break the misconception that our menu is primarily the raw fish and meatballs of Scandinavian stereotype. Anecdotally we know a lot of people look at the description of the restaurant and write us off for that very reason. We think our cooking style is best described as modern and we use a lot of Yorkshire produce so that’s how were going to describe ourselves from now on. We will still have the Nordic influence, because there are chefs we admire from those regions, but it will be a little less pronounced.
You may notice that we aren’t taking deposits upfront any more. We took this decision because we don’t want any impediment to making a booking and now that the situation is known publicly we understand it could make guests think twice. What we would say is that even in the short 2-3 week period since we stopped taking deposits we have seen a big increase in no-shows and late cancellations, this isn’t going to help the situation at all so if you aren’t able to attend your booking do try to give us as much notice as you can.
Do come and use your vouchers for Norse as you would normally, but we took the decision to remove vouchers from sale shortly before Christmas.
We know there are Kickstarter backers that still have meals to claim. We’d really like to encourage you to get those booked in to come and eat with us – we’d say January is the perfect month for this!!
How can you Help?
We are fully aware that we’ve already asked for help to move the restaurant and that many of you have continued to visit frequently over the last 8 months. We really appreciate this, we can’t ask for much more from you.
If you’d like you can help by sharing the content we’re going to be putting out over the next few days and week to your friends, family and colleagues. You can also share this post, that’d really help to get the message out.
Naturally the main way anyone can help is by making a booking (or two…..with friends!) to eat with us.
Talking the decision to put this information into the public domain including via the press is a gamble. Guests may write us off and look elsewhere, but we’re hoping that it will work in our favour and those of you that enjoy visiting the restaurant will lend your support once again.
This format change is our last chance to alter the trajectory of the restaurant. It is absolutely achievable so please believe us when we say we are going to do everything in our power to bring the restaurant through this and out the other side. The reality is that we’re going to need your help to do it.
If we can’t force a change then an amazing team of people will lose their jobs and Harrogate will lose a restaurant that we firmly believe has something to offer our dining scene .
If you have questions do post in the comments or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul and the Norse team x
If you need to talk to one of the team you can call on 01423-313-400