Iceland Mag

-3 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

Kaffi Laugalækur: A dream come true

By Sara McMahon

  • New function Verðlistinn, an old clothing store located in the Laugarnes neighbourhood, will soon reopen as a lovely, family-friendly café and guesthouse. Photo/Kaffi Laugalækur

Childhood friends Hörður Jóhannesson and Björn Arnar Hauksson recently purchased an 50-year-old clothing store located in the highly vegetated and friendly Laugarnes neighbourhood in central Reykjavík, with the intention of converting it into a lovely family-friendly bistro and hostel.

Kaffi Laugalækur, Hörður Jóhannesson

Hörður Jóhannesson owns and runs Kaffi Laugalækur with his childhood friend Björn Arnar Hauksson.

The establishment, which has been named Kaffi Laugalækur, is well-situated at the heart of the grassy Laugarnes neighbourhood - just a stone’s throw away from a number of local gourmet shops, the popular Laugardalslaug swimming pool, the botanical gardens, and Laugardalur Petting Zoo and Family Park. It will be a casual and homey establishment, catering to a varied crowd, including families with children.

“Björn and I have always had a passion for quality food, Nordic ingredients, and great beverages. We often spoke about going into business together. When the opportunity finally presented itself, we decided to grab it,” Hörður explains. Incidentally, the two friends own homes in the neighbourhood with their respective families and, according to Hörður, envision managing the café well into their senior years.  

Family affair

The neighbourhood's landmark building, formerly known as Verðlistinn, was put up for sale in 2014. At the time, a group of residents got together hoping to purchase the premises with the intention of opening a community owned and run café. However, the idea never saw the light of day as the property was pulled off the market again. But now the dream of a friendly neighbourhood coffee shop will finally be made good.

It is safe to say that the business is a family affair; Hörður’s fiancé, Svanhildur Una, a trained waiter, will oversee the service, while another friend of theirs, Ólafur Stefánsson, takes on the position of head chef.

“Our old friends, architects Magnea Guðmundsdóttir and Eva Huld Friðriksdóttir, are in charge of redesigning the space which, when we’re done, will be bright, roomy and green, like the neighbourhood itself,” Hörður explains.

Björn Arnar currently resides in Singapore. Having lived abroad for the last 12 years, he has been exposed to a wide variety of culinary cultures. According to Hörður, the bistro‘s menu will include seasonal and healthy Nordic products and traditional recipes infused with more exotic food combinations, which is sure to set the eatery apart from other local bistros “Björn Arnar has been greatly inspired by foreign street food and we want to incorporate that into our approach,” Hörður concludes.

Kaffi Laugalækur is located at Laugarnesvegur 74a and is scheduled to open in June. 

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