Goodbye to a legendary pub: A new café concept moves in

by Nathalia Hentze Nielsen

Back in 2022, we reported that one of the city’s most legendary pubs, Downtown, was put up for sale.

For over 40 years, cold beers, tall tales, and good cheer were served at Skipper Clements Gade 1, and most people probably expected it to continue in the future once a new owner was found.

However, things didn’t go that way.

A brand new concept moves in

A year ago, the couple Claus Nivaa and Mia Bønløkke Thomsen took over the place, and it wasn’t with the dream of a pub in mind but rather a book café where “the arts can meet.”

“It was an idea that, in the best Jørgen Leth style, I had had in a notebook for a long time, so it had probably always been in our thoughts.

It was the space that determined that now was the right time to take the plunge,” Claus Nivaa explains as we visit him and his girlfriend in the iconic basement.

The old nicotine has been scraped off the old beams, burnt condoms have left the radiators’ hiding places, and the walls have bid farewell to layers of vintage wallpaper.

It has taken almost a year, and Claus himself tore it all down with his own hands.

A different café experience

Claus and Mia have now transformed the premises that will be the foundation for a new chapter in their lives.

Here, they will combine their areas of interest and create an environment where art, poetry, and music take center stage.

The name will be “Ordgeist,” which already adorns the facade facing the street.

“The idea with Ordgeist is, in general, to combine literature with a café experience where guests can enjoy light dishes like tapas, salads, and panini, accompanied by a good cup of coffee.

Our dream is that it becomes a place where you can relax and immerse yourself in the books we have on the shelves,” Claus says.

The selection of books is broad, ranging from Miguel de Cervantes to Jussi Adler and “Plet” books for the youngest readers.

So, Ordgeist will also be a classic bookstore, hoping to combine book sales with visits from various authors. In addition, there will be reader copies in the café, which you can read when you drop by.

“So, of course, we hope you’ll also buy a cup of coffee while you’re here,” Claus adds.

The café can accommodate 65 guests and is primarily built from recycled and inherited pieces.

More cultural projects on the horizon

Claus and Mia are both high school teachers and describe themselves as “literary nerds.”

Claus has been and is involved in several cultural and artistic projects for years, and that experience will naturally be used in the new café.

“The idea is that we should create a space for different art forms to come together. In the beginning, we will hold events on a monthly basis, but sometimes even weekly.

Some of them will be free, while others will be paid. It could be anything from poetry slam to book receptions, art exhibitions, and various concerts,” he says.

For now, the opening hours are Tuesday to Friday from 09:00 to 17:300 and Saturday from 09:00 to 15:00. In connection with events, the café will be open in the evenings.

Not a competitor to anyone

Even though Claus and Mia have invested time, money, and energy in their new place, their ambition is not to create a profit machine.

On the contrary, they dream of embracing the more unconventional, which is evident when you walk through the basement.

“For example, when we had to create our logo, I asked our illustrator to write ‘Books, food, events’ under our logo, but he’s British, so he pointed out that it read ‘mad events’ at first glance… But that didn’t really matter,” Claus says with a laugh.

Right now, the menu only lists “Røvbanansplit” and “Ostehaps,” but it should be expanded a bit before the opening on Thursday.

“I know Jonas from Penny Lane, so we’ll get bread and cakes from him. In addition, we will offer light dishes, but not at all on par with the area’s cafes. In that way, we don’t see ourselves as competitors to anyone,” he emphasizes.

Ordgeist opens on Thursday, October 26th, with a reception where Claus and Mia will host a glass of wine or a beer and some food.

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