Scandinavian restaurant, outdoor shop coming to the square

Two new businesses are coming to the Fayetteville Square, and when they open in May, Fayetteville’s going to get itself a bit of Scandinavian flavor.

Matthew Holland and his wife Camilla plan to open a restaurant, as well as an outdoor shop in East Square Plaza next month.

Holland is originally from Arkansas (around the Malvern area), and he met his Camilla (who is from Norway) while the two were working in New Jersey. The Hollands moved to Norway where they lived for six years before returning to the United States to be closer to family, and to open their businesses.

“All my family is in Arkansas, and there are a lot of opportunities here. There are four seasons here, so that’s kind of nice,” Matthew said.

Camilla will run the outdoor store, called Nordic Moods, and Matthew will run the restaurant, which will be called Hjem (prounounced ‘yem’). According to Matthew, the restaurant name means home in Norwegian.

The Hollands considered opening their shops in Hot Springs and Little Rock, before finally deciding on Fayetteville.

Matthew Holland and Sous Chef Eric Clay

“We took a drive up here, and I showed (Camilla) Fayetteville, and she said ‘yeah, this is the place,” Matthew told us. “Economically, it’s viable, and it’s just really pretty. I love the hills, and the charm of the town.”

Nordic Moods will sell casual outdoor and sports wear from Scandinavia.

“We’ll carry Bergan’s of Norway, Ally Canoes which are collapsible canoes that are lightweight,” Matthew told us. “Well also carry backpacks, some really fashionable rain gear from Denmark, and all of our display furniture will be for sale as well. It’s all antique wood that is reclaimed from old barns.”

Matthew graduated from culinary school in 2001 in New York, and will draw on his experience interning at Soho restaurants Savoy and Blue Ribbon to run Hjem Restaurant.

Matthew said Hjem will operate with a menu of about 25 items with a focus on northwest pacific cuisine with “a lot of scandinavian influence.”

“I plan to get a lot of seafood in from Nova Scotia, Seattle, and Alaska. Arctic char, whole grilled macarell, halibut. I’ll have Wagyu beef, and I don’t think many people are serving that around here. We also make these great collassal scallops appetizers, served in the scallop shell, w/ dewberry tarragon butter sauce. Things like that,” Matthew said.

Matthew said that the East Square Plaza building won’t require a lot of work.

“We didn’t have to do a lot of rennovation. We had to do some painting, the ceiling, walls, put down a nice floor, and build the kitchen, which we’re working on now,” Matthew said.

The plan is to open Nordic Moods sometime in early to mid May, with Hjem is scheduled to open a week or so later.