‘Røverdatter’ the Pub with 120 Owners
I met Øystein Rise filming a music video in my mums hometown; Bergen [Norway], over the past years we’ve taken a few road trips, collaborated on a bunch of videos, and shared a lot of good conversation over whiskey. But I wanted to speak to him about a recent venture outside of the music industry, he co-owns a pub with 119 other people.
So let’s jump into it, how did this come about?
It is a thing here in Bergen, Norway. Actually this is the third pub co-owned by the surrounding neighbourhood in the city, its Dr. Wiesner who has approximately 230 owners, Folk & Røvere that has 60 owners, and now ours, called Røverdatter, that has 120 owners. We were 99 in the beginning but have now become 120 owners. We wanted a place for our selves that didn’t make a chain or some dude rich, and that we all could benefit from it during the years to come.
Yeah, I love the concept of having community run venues and businesses, but with having so many owners how do you decide how it’s actually run, the decor, the prices and everything else?
It is of course a job to make everyone happy, but when we started up we made different groups people could be active in, for instance, one group for decor and interior, one for the music and cultural things, one for the beer and alcohol – and we of course have a board that take care of the most important questions and problems. There is also a daily manager hired.
Ok yeah that makes sense. That shares the workload and means people can focus on the part of the business that interests them. Which group are you in?
I’m in the cultural department, and working there as a bartender at times when needed. And since the daily manager is my girlfriend, I’m also in the mix as a potato – or genitor as some would call it. lol, not genitor – but janitor. Big difference! I need to read this through before you guys post it.
Ha ha! I think all of this needs to stay in, I think you’re being overly modest describing yourself as a potato, but let’s move on. Tell me about one of your favourite events you have put on at the pub as part of the cultural department.
We have already gotten some pretty big and local names playing in our basement, from Datarock, Riot Monkeys to Hjerteslag – which is pretty awesome! And right before the corona-pandemic hit us we had lots of different bookings, from parties to concerts, which of course got cancelled. As a journalist and producer myself, I have kept a little in the background with bookings and so on, so there shouldn’t be any conflicts of interest.
Its pretty hard to avoid, right now everyone running and owning something in the city is scared. There is a chance we will have to have a maximum of 30 people inside all the way until next year, and if that sticks we will probably have to close down. The board is frequently having meetings on this, so until further notice, we are just crossing our fingers.
Damn, well I’ll cross mine too, clearly you’re not the only one in this situation in Bergen, or worldwide for that matter, so at least we have some solidarity in that. Seeing as the pub is closed I guess you’ve had more time than normal to make beats at home?
Haha, that’s very true. Ive been making a couple a day. Now some of the material with my homie “Sykihode” has been sent to The Propeller Studio in Oslo for mastering. And while that EP is on its way, we have already made a new one. I guess we are making trilogy this year. And yes, the whole world is suffering from the pandemic, so I guess we Norwegians are pretty lucky like that, since we have a pretty good health care system.
Yeah seeing as pubs and music venues are closed I am guessing musicians are writing and recording a lot more music from home at the moment, a lot of albums will be released later this year! But back to the pub, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to set up a community project like yours with so many owners?
I guess the most important thing is to have a democratic approach from the very beginning, getting listed what people expect, and what is expected form every owner, so there won’t be any misunderstandings during the way. Another thing is to have a good functioning board, with all jobs and assignments split between them, so everyone knows what to do at all times. Since it is a community project there wont be people paid to do these different chores, and therefore it will demand a lot more from the owners. Communication is always the key.
The alcohol prices, and just the cost of eating or drinking out in general are beyond crazy in a lot of places Norway, was that one of the main reasons for setting up?… Providing an affordable place to socialise for yourselves and the community?
Absolutely! Its not like you start this place to get rich, but to have a place where we could be more in control of everything, including the prices. With time we should be able to make the beer cheaper and cheaper.
Ok so to wrap up the interview, I‘m going to leave the final words to you, with my full encouragement to say whatever you want.
I think community projects will become more and more important and usual in the future. Hopefully people will start to realize that capitalism in its form just make the richest richer – and the quality the consumer get is only getting worse by the minute. It is nothing hip-hop about wearing gucci and prada. Much love!
Picture at the top of the page features board leader Bjørn Reksten, bartender Aaron Whitehouse and the potato Øystein Rise.