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Studenterhuset on rocky path to success

The student café 'Studenterhuset' has always had a hard time attracting students despite the prime location in central Copenhagen. Now a new director says he is turning things around

»We have prolonged the opening hours and are now open over 100 hours a week. That is an increase of 40 per cent« explains a satisfied new director of Studenterhuset, Jacob Ørum, to our Danish sister newspaper Universitetsavisen.

After many years of struggling to fill up the prime located café with students, Studenterhuset’s new director is happy to report a change in popularity.

»And we are making money«, Ørum continues. »We have actually had a record high turnover so far this year, despite having lowered many of the prices«.

Working on ‘hygge’

Today the tables are filled with students typing away on their laptops and sipping coffee. The walls are painted with funky typography and in the middle stands an inviting sofa with a knitted colourful cover.

But Studenterhuset has not always looked this way. The last two directors of Studenterhuset have each tried to attract students to the café in their own way. The last by renovating the place. Neither helped particularly in terms of Studenterhuset popularity. Today, Jacob Ørum is taking a different strategy.

»We are working hard to make it more ‘hyggeligt’,« Jacob Ørum says referring to the Danish term which means at the same time cosy, comfortable and relaxed.

Building an empire

Another of Ørum’s initiatives is to lobby politicians and business leaders in Copenhagen. They should be involved in creating a café that attracts smart students to the capital.

This initiative is inspired by the student café of Aarhus. There, the Studenterhuset is a city darling and place for investment both by politicians and companies such as medical corporation Novo Nordisk. This is according to Nicolai Wammen, former mayor of Aarhus and Minister of European Affairs in the current government, who recently visited Studenterhuset to talk to both director and students.

Jacob Ørum’s ambitions are high for Copenhagen’s Studenterhuset: »We have the ambition of building a little empire for students«.

A new lifestyle

For volunteers, Jacob Ørum has focused on making Studenterhuset a place which will look good on CVs and giving valuable lessons. And this has had an effect. Volunteers must now wait in line for a spot, Ørum says.

»Today you can’t just walk in the front door and become a volunteer«, he says, »We want to know exactly with what, and in what way, applicants want to contribute to Studenterhuset. Currently there is a waiting period to be a volunteer here«.

»We have changed the focus from fun and partying towards our student activities. Today we are selling more coffee than before – and that says a lot about what kind of lifestyle this place has« Ørum explains.

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