Friday, December 14, 2018

The Restaurant Where I Didn’t Eat

Vesturgata, Reykjavík, November 2018

This long, sloping building near the Old Harbour, was once a thriving restaurant. It has never been open during any of my seven trips to Iceland. I have always been intrigued by it, especially so on my last visit. This area of Reykjavík has been undergoing massive development, I would think that this prime location property would have been either converted to some money-making enterprise or would have been torn down to make way for a new building.

Originally a boathouse, it had been built in 1882, with numerous additions over the years. It was converted to a restaurant in 1953 and was given the name Naust (boathouse.) It was mentioned in the 70s cold-war thriller Running Blind by Desmond Bagley. A consortium of Chinese-Europeans purchased it in 2007 with the intention of opening the best Chinese restaurant in Iceland. Soon after it opened, in March, 2008, it was raided by Police and employment officials, its owners being under investigation for human trafficking offenses and it was discovered that the workers were illegal and in a state of virtual slavery. It was sold to another group in 2010 but closed again in 2012, when it was left empty, as it stands today, cowering behind the battleship form of a modern hotel.

This juxtaposition of old and new in Reykjavík is something I’ll be looking at again.

By Professor Batty


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