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Nexø makes it happen

Five years ago, it would have sounded crazy if someone suggested that Nexø would be reborn as a startup hub. Today, Bornholm's second-largest city is a multitude of artisans and food entrepreneurs.

By Jon Albjerg Ravnholt

That’s the excellent gentrification. In any case, it is difficult to find anyone in Nexø who is dissatisfied with the creative industries and the small food producers who have taken over the city. With a beach park on its way, north of the old industrial port, and big plans for the harbour itself, the regional municipality supports Nexø’s change.

Glass designer Pernille Bülow came to Nexø 20 years ago when she needed more space for production and spotted the warehouse building at the far end of the pier, which had been empty since the fishing stopped.
– When I came out here, I thought: what a beach promenade!
It has not quite happened yet, but more life has come to the harbour, and Pernille Bülow herself has contributed to it with the Christmas market, which opened last year with inspired by the Christmas market in Lübeck.

Klondyke atmosphere

From her office, Pernille Bülow can look across the harbour to Matter, which ceramicist Sarah Oakman and glass designer Maj-Britt Zelmer Olsen opened in the spring of 2021. They are open for events and invited other artists to exhibit in the former warehouse.

– There is still a Klondyke atmosphere in Nexø, says Sarah Oakman.

– You can feel that the development is carried forward by locals.

Paulie Melnyk has started Holmer, a coffee shop and shop for local crafts, design and food on Nexø’s old shopping street.

– There is a lot of focus on the harbour, and it is a fantastic place, but he says you can use even more of the city.

Further up in the city, Møbelfabrikken has become a gathering point for startups, established companies needing extra space and office communities.
Here, Malene Rossil started brewing the fermented soft drink kombucha commercially in 2017, and recently she has, in her own words, helped to “break down the sugar wall” when Bornholm Kombucha became part of the range in 7-Eleven. She grew up in Nexø and is one of those who welcome the development in the city:
– It is gentrification, but the development is done with respect for Nexø’s DNA.

New life to a dead industry

Another former industrial company that has been transformed into a startup hub is Konservesfabrikken. The schnapps manufacturer Line Falk from FALK Bornholm was the first to move in last year, but since then, several creative companies and food producers have moved in.
– There’s a community here. There is a local patriotism and a working-class culture here.

FALK Bornholm is one of the island’s four schnapps producers, but at several restaurants, they also make their spice schnapps. Breno Pedersen did the same when he had a restaurant in Snogebæk, but when he docked with his sailboat in Nexø Harbor, he got a look at the bar H8. Now he owns one of Nexø’s most popular cafés and rents out pedal boats in the harbour this summer.

There is room for everyone

Since Troels Madsen opened Restaurant Molen in 2014, he has experienced more and more people dare to open up restaurants and shops in Nexø, which is helping to attract more guests to the city. He describes Restaurant Molen’s profile as “pleasurable”, but it still looks a lot fancier than the harbour’s newest addition, Søndre Slævasted.

Busser opened Bornholm’s perhaps smallest café in a fishing shed, and the decor makes the place look like a bit of a museum he admits.
As a former commercial fisherman, it is a little sad with all the change that Nexø has been through. But now the tourists are walking around out here, they never did that in the old days.

Lasse Holmgaard also experienced this when he went here in 2017. Therefore, he opened R60, named after his father’s fishing boat, and it soon became a place of worship for the people of Bornholm. Later a friend came and made Thai food, and eventually, more people found their way down to the harbour.
– I’m not a first mover, but I could see that there was a vast potential. I hope the harbour continues to evolve. There is room for anyone who wants to do something here.

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