Café Alvar A., the oldest café at Helsinki Airport, transformed into Tapio Café in October. The café is inspired by the Kalevala. Almost everything you see, experience or taste is Finnish.
Café Alvar A. was designed as a joint effort by Iittala, Artek and the Aalto Foundation in 2008. Café Alvar A. was known for displaying timeless Finnish design.
Situated in the busiest area at the airport, Café Alvar A. had experienced rapid growth in the number of customers in the last few years.
– We want to serve our customers as well as possible in all our service locations. After the renewal we now have the capacity to serve the new customer volume. It was clear that the renovation would be based on the Finnish angle. So Tapio Café was created, says Elena Stenholm, Finavia’s deputy director in charge of commercial services at Helsinki Airport.
Inspired by the Kalevala
The name of the café is based on Tapio, the spirit of the woods, who appears in the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. According to an ancient belief, hunters would prepare for the hunt by praying to Tapio for the hunt to go well.
Almost everything you see, experience or taste at the café is Finnish.
– The counter and walls are made from Finnish birch, the furniture is Finnish design, and the food ingredients are from Finland. The dishes are Iittala classics, and the iconic Marimekko brand can be seen in the clothes the staff wear. The front wall of the café is decorated with impressive animal works by Teemu Järvi, a Finnish illustrator, says Jussi Laakso, marketing and business development director of SSP Finland, which runs Tapio Café.
The Kuu lamps (Finnish for “moon”) hanging from the ceiling of the café are another example of the Finnish angle.
In Finnish mythology, the moon is linked to happiness, destiny and the cycle of nature. Ancient Finns believed that the consequences of their actions were directly related to the cycle of the moon. The shade of the Kuu lamp is made from old sun screen fabric, filtering the light beautifully, while simultaneously forming a structured, yet imperfect shape.
Finnish flavours in glasses and on plates
The selection that Tapio Café offers is based on Finnish products and ingredients.
The café serves breakfast, lunch salads, sandwiches and warm dishes, such as reindeer meatballs and a house club sandwich.
In addition to a range of coffees and local refreshments, the café serves tasty seasonal products from Finland and abroad, and beer made by small, local breweries.
– The renovation, based on growing passenger numbers, has made it possible for us to serve our customers even faster and smoother, Laakso says.