According to Forbes, Diana Riz and her Norwegian husband Morten Estensmo always had an entrepreneurial spirit; they established their first company in the digital media sector in Hungary before moving to Norway. Initially, they tried opening pop-up bistros. However, a couple of years ago, they opened a restaurant in Oslo, and since February, they serve Hungarian street food at a site of a former swimming pool.
The space is filled with guests sitting around tables eating and drinking while music plays in the background. In the far corner of the area, there is a yellow Budapest tram with a colourful “Street Food Budapest” sign.
“Our bestselling product is the lángostrio; on three pieces of lángos we put different kinds of toppings. We are also planning to introduce pörkölt and sausages,” Diana Riz who opened Street Food Budapest with her Norwegian husband in February told forbes.hu. There was a lot of competition for the site, and the owner did not want to sell to individuals who planned to open a traditional buffet or fast food restaurants. Therefore, Street Food Budapest does not sell pizzas, burgers or sushi.
The couple pays a percentage of their revenue to the owners of the swimming pool. The more successful their restaurant is, the less they have to pay. The venture has been a success so far as locals love the lángos, the goulash, and the pulled-pork sandwiches they offer.
After a successful business career in Hungary, the couple decided to move to Norway with their children. “We wanted to bring Hungary’s cuisine with us,” explained Morten. They worked on small-scale projects, selling food at events and festivals. For example, before their restaurants, they tried selling kürtöskalács in the city centre, but without much luck. After a while, they started looking for an ideal place to open their first restaurant.
They opened their first restaurant called Bistro Budapest in Oslo in November 2017. The facility was furnished with items from Hungary, including the bricks and the interior. It can welcome up to 40 guests at a time and is nearly always full. The restaurant was even rated by the biggest Norwegian newspaper VG, who gave them 5/6. As a result of the article, hype around the Hungarian restaurant grew even more. Visitors are mostly Norwegian, but local Hungarians love showing their friends the dishes and culinary traditions of their country of origin.
There are three chefs at Bistro Budapest, and there is not head chef, increasing their room for creativity. The menu was put together by Diana with the help of Budapest-based chef Sándor Kerekes, who runs Gléda Restaurant in Óbuda.
What makes the lángos in this restaurant so special is its ability to adapt to the local culture. For example, guests love the shrimp-topped lángos with a glass of Hungarian wine.
Street Food Budapest was designed by the late Szabolcs Kövessy, who sadly passed away before his work could be realised. Street Food Budapest’s design with the tram is attributed to him.
Some of the names of the dishes on the menu were changed in order to lure in potential customers. For example, the Somlói galuska was renamed to ‘Hungarian Favourite’ while lángos is also advertised as ‘fritert brød’.
Bistro Budapest required an investment of around €200,000 while Budapest Street Food cost around €150,000 to establish. They hope to break-even with both restaurants by the end of next year.
Recently, the couple organised a Hungarian gastro-day together with the Hungarian ambassador to Norway in Oslo. The feedback after the event was very positive.
Their successful business model has allowed them to succeed in Oslo. They are planning to open a new restaurant in rural Norway as well.
Featured image: https://www.facebook.com/streetfoodbudapest/