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“When the cannons are heard, the muses are silent”

“When the cannons are heard, the muses are silent”

Ben Liebmann
April 20th, 2020

As many of you have seen, the Danish Government has recently introduced a number of emergency measures to support our community during these unprecedented and challenging times. This includes a number of programs to help protect the most affected Danish workers and companies during the months ahead.

Our local Copenhagen restaurant community has been amongst the most impacted by this crisis.

Unlike many other industries, very few if any independent restaurant has the luxury of keeping money for a rainy day. Independent restaurants are by and large cash-flow businesses, operating on the tightest of margins and with nearly all money going to pay employees, suppliers, utility providers and landlords.

Without guests, restaurants have no money,

Here at noma, we are able to access the Government’s extraordinary support. This, combined with the continued support of our partners as well as the generosity of our friends and guests, will give our restaurant the best possible chance to survive, and our entire team a livelihood until we are able to reopen.

Yet at the same time, many of our friends and peers around the world are facing desperate and challenging times.

Over the past month, thousands and thousands of independent restaurants around the world have closed. These restaurants represent somebody’s life’s work, or even newly opened hopes and dreams.

With these closures have gone millions of jobs – from cooks and waiters, sommeliers, dishwashers and cleaners, managers and office workers. And as part of our broader food system, so too have the jobs of many more – farmers, fishermen, winemakers – all who depend on restaurants for their own living.

Around the world, these people are part of one community.

They are passionate, creative and incredibly talented.

They are all of our family, our friends and our neighbours.

We stand together with them, as one, during what will no doubt be the greatest challenge our industry has ever faced.

With the support of the Danish Government, restaurants like noma have a fighting chance – a chance to reopen, a chance to welcome back our guests, and a chance to do what we do best.

But for many around the world, they do not yet have this chance.

On behalf of all of them – on behalf of all of us – please lend a hand in any way you can.

Independent restaurants reflect, and are a reflection of, the community around them.

As described by Jeff Gordinier (‘The Trump Administration Is Writing a Death Sentence for America’s Most Important Restaurants‘), “great restaurants turn sleepy corners into hubs of activity. From city to city, the restaurant revolution has been a revolution in consciousness. These restaurants offer the green-state-ish idea that there’s a different way to use the land, and they serve as a reminder that there is an infinitude of American stories to be told about community and fellowship.”

Please support independent restaurants.

Please continue to make reservations for the future or buy gift cards. Please continue to order takeaway or delivery directly (not via the predatory apps) from your local favourites.

Please continue supporting groups like the Independent Restaurant Coalition.

And please contact your own government representatives to ask for their support in helping restaurants around the world reopen.

In the last financial crisis, governments around the world bailed out companies that were considered “too big to fail”. Independent restaurants, as chef David Chang has previously noted, are “too small to fail”. When considering their vital role in our local and global communities and economies, there are also “too many to fail”.

Sustained government support will be vital for the survival of independent restaurants – and not just the homogeneous chains – in the long and difficult months ahead, and calls to representatives can make a difference.
Every little thing counts and will help our global restaurant community rebuild and get back on its feet. And when it does, every one of us will welcome you back with open arms.

Thank you to everyone around the world for their friendship and support.

Take care of one another.

Ben Liebmann
Chief Operating Officer

(Note: The title of this piece is a reference to the Truman Capote book ‘The Muses Are Heard‘, which in turn comes from a speech given by a former staff member of the Soviet cultural ministry, who declared, “When the cannons are heard, the muses are silent. When the cannons are silent, the muses are heard.”)

Photo by Rasmus Hjortshøj

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