To open something new in Norway is very hard. Companies such as Pizza Hut, Lidl, ICA, and Vapiano didn’t make it. What was the reason for that happening? As we are located in Oslo, Norway and have an interest in whats going on in our capital. We like to look at stores that try to enter the difficult market in Norway. Because if you do it right you can survive but if you don’t you will waste your money. I suspect that this is the reason for KFC, Popeyes or other fast-food chains to not even try to enter our Nordic country. In Iceland, McDonald’s had to say byebye in October 2009. You can read more about the interesting last burger that was bought at McDonald’s on Iceland here.

So, what makes it so difficult to hold the wheels going in the Nordic countries outside of European Union? The answer is that the internal market and freedom of speech is the reason for this. In Lidl chase. Once the media got to know that they were trying to establish themselves back in 2003 (before closing in 2008) that the workers don’t get right treatment as they should have. Also the fact that Lidl wanted to build their own stores everywhere in Norway, but in Oslo the government rejected it as they wanted Lidl to use the buildings that Oslo already got. To get a license for building something new in Oslo is very hard but Lidl kept on fighting regarding this. In the end they bailed out and chose to settle down in various locations of our capital. But by then they had used millions trying convincing Oslo to give them areas to build on. So Rema 1000 took over in 2008.

Vapiano doing good in Sweden but closed down in Norway

I personally loved the interior of the only Vapiano restaurant in Oslo. I went there for a Christmas party many years ago. Vapiano opened its unique restaurants back in Oslo in 2012. Four years later they had to close the doors! I visited the restaurant before it was too late, and both Trond and I can tell you about it in detail. The restaurant named Vapiano is a worldwide chain that is based on self-service. Its a unique concept where you sort of get a credit card when you enter. Then you take whatever you want what they serve such as pasta, pizza, and other delicious dishes. Vapiano’s prices are low but if you dont have control then a visit to their restaurants can be a unpleasant surprise. Because when you are leaving the restaurant you need to deliver the credit card to the cashier and pay for all of the food that you have eaten.

Vapiano tried them a unique restaurant concept in Oslo with low prices. But maybe the concept didn’t attract enough Norwegians to their restaurants? Or was it that the money to save doing the waitress job yourself felt a bit not good within the Norwegian souls?

In this article we reveal how it was when Vapiano still had a restaurant in Oslo and reveal to you if the food was really that good? So this is our experience with the unique German concept restaurant that was located just beside Rådhusplassen. It was easy to see the Vapiano signs in the area so the location of this first and last restaurant in Oslo were quite visible for sure.

The overall impression of Vapiano in Norway

The very first impression of the restaurant was the unique entrance which was nice and there´s a lady welcoming both of us in the counter. She gives us a “credit card” to each of us and explains how it works. The ambiance is beautiful with soft lighting and oblong, a white-wood table that seats many a time. In the middle of the room, it made room for an ever so small herbarium with green herbs. The overall feel of the place was new and fresh. If there is anything to give kudos for was the interior of the restaurant. It looked really good. A feel-good vibe restaurant for sure.

How was the ordering food experience?

We had to order the food directly in the kitchen counter and swipe the card you got at the entrance for each time. We got a small chip so we can go back to our table and wait there until the food is ready. Then the chip blinks red. It takes only 5 minutes so it is pretty quick. The variety of food that we saw was made in the humongous large kitchen looked amazing as a hugely positive first impression.

I ordered Funghi Pasta for 115NOK (10.28 Euro) and had a Coke (33cl) for 40NOK (3.58 Euro). The pasta also had a quite tasty feeling, according to Trond. Then he ordered Pizza Pesto con Spinaci for 95NOK and a free water glass from the tap (which most of the restaurants in Norway offer). But according to his experience. The pizza at Vapiano was tasteless, and was one of the most boring pizza experiences that Trond had for years!

The food experience at Vapiano in Oslo wasn’t special and lots of Norwegians felt the same it seems. Vapiano never recovered its losses and had to close down in 2012. But in Sweden and Germany, they are doing great. I went with Trond on a trip back in October 2019 to Germany where we decided to try Vapiano there. I had a quite good experience. But maybe they should have done something extra to the food. Also, the fact that this so-called “credit card” system makes you eat and order way more than what you would do in a normal restaurant. The overall feeling at Vapiano is a bit stressful even though they try to make it all look so nice.

How is the “credit card” payment solution when you’re done at Vapiano?

It is an efficient solution having your own card, swipe it every time and then pay when you leave. But what about the food? It should have been much better. It is sad to see Vapiano lost their market totally in Norway but their impression here wasn’t the best. Its sad because it is a new and unique concept but Norwegians rejected them and so they gave up. Sad but true.


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This is what a day at Vapiano could look like if you are a bartender or a pasta chef. Follow Gustaf and Camilla, two Vapianisti, at work. We liked the video. It’s a very good production!