A COUPLE’S trip to a music festival in Iceland sparked a dream of bringing a slice of the country back to the UK.
Now Chris and Lisa Whitear, both 32, have opened 101 Reykjavik, a cafe bar in the tradition of the laid back ‘kaffibars’ of the city.
Lisa quit her office job and worked for six months at All About Tea, gaining valuable experience.
And when the ideal premises came up on the corner of Castle Road, Southsea, they jumped at the chance.
Lisa said: ‘We first visited Iceland in 2009. It was such an unusual place and we just fell in love with it.
‘Ten miles out of Reykjavik you’re surrounded by moss and glaciers. It’s a bizarre but fascinating place.
‘Every year we’ve gone back we’ve taken more friends and we all said, why aren’t there kaffibars in the UK?
‘We always do things like this. We talk about things as a bit of a joke and find they become a reality.’
There is traditional Icelandic fare, including Icelandic hot dogs, and skyr – a thick yoghurt.
While Icelandic beers such as Stedji, which is from a micro-brewery, are proving hugely popular with visitors.
Pieces of quirky Icelandic art, photography and music posters jostle for space on the walls with work by local artists such as Freakstatic and FARK.
And the music is, of course, Icelandic.
Chris runs the University of Portsmouth’s music studios as well as a record label and his own band, B of the Bang.
He sees similarities between Reykjavik and Southsea, and knew that the idea would work over here.
He said: ‘They both have lots of independent bars and restaurants, and arts and culture are very important.
‘Castle Road is a lovely community and we’re close friends with the guys at Pie & Vinyl and the Hole in the Wall pub.
‘It’s an up and coming area and everyone helps each other out.’
The Thursday Thing has seen a series of fascinating films, performances and talks by people like Ed Hancox, the author of Iceland Defrosted.
Ed said: ‘Chris and Lisa have paid such attention, such love and care to 101 that it is absolutely wonderful.
‘I’ve been to a few Icelandic bars in my time and this feels like stepping into a kaffibar.’
To come this month there is music from Day of the Rabblement, an exhibition of beard photography plus live jazz, and Iceland music documentary and a talk from Icelandic writers.
Chris says: ‘There’s an Icelandic word, huggelegt, which means warm and cosy.
‘That’s what we want people to feel here.’ Open 9am to late. Go to 101reykjavik.co.uk.