Hungry for More

When opening acclaimed restaurant Agern in New York, Gunnar Karl Gíslason tasted twenty different types of butter before he found one he liked. His pastry chefs sourced several kinds of organic milk because the ice creams made from regular milk tasted off to him. He never did end up finding lamb that met his standards in the US, though he found a single farm in the mountains of Pennsylvania whose grass-fed sheep he deemed adequate to serve his guests. But in Reykjavík, he’ll scarf down the local classic – a hot dog with ‘everything:’ crispy fried onion, fresh onion, mustard, remoulade, and ketchup – like the Akureyri-raised country boy he is. There’s a catch though: he’ll only get one from certain shops where they heat the sausages the way he likes them and serve the right kind of ketchup.

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“Icelanders deserve to be able to eat out at affordable prices”

A Reykjavík restaurant has seen a significant increase in customers since lowering its menu prices by 20%, Fréttablaðið reports. The owner credits this in large part to the fact that more Icelanders are able to afford eating there on a regular basis.

The restaurant Þrír Frakkar, which specializes in classic Icelandic cuisine, opened its doors on March 1, 1989. To celebrate its 30th anniversary, owner and chef Stefán Úlfarsson (who recently took over from his father, Úlfar Eysteinsson) decided to lower menu prices by 30% for the first week of March. The promotion was so successful, however, that he decided to permanently lower prices by 20%.

The subject of high prices at local restaurants and cafes became a hot topic recently when Þórarinn Ævarsson, the CEO of IKEA in Iceland, gave a speech at a conference held by the Icelandic Confederation of Labour in which he criticized “excessive” markups on menus, which has, he argued, led to Icelanders no longer going out to eat.

Chef Stefán told Fréttablaðið that his restaurant held their 30-year anniversary promotion around the time that Þórarinn gave his speech and so the CEO’s theories were very much in his mind at the time. He said that the number of diners at the restaurant in March was significantly higher – sometimes over 30% higher – than usual. Stefán says that by lowering prices and getting more customers, his restaurant maximises all of their resources, be it staff hours and wages, produce turnover, or the operational cost of the building.

Stefán also said that his restaurant has seen a particularly big uptick in the number of Icelandic diners who come in. “Our foreign employees told me that they haven’t seen so many Icelanders in a long time. It has been a huge boon for us.”

“I recommend that people try this and track the results. Icelanders deserve to be able to eat out at affordable prices.”