There was for months a business space available for rent in the corner of the Liisankatu and Snellmaninkatu Streets in Helsinki. I clearly remember there having been, for decades, the old Elanto cooperative grocery store, with its lovely middle aged shop ladies. After Elanto, a chain called Siwa moved in, and all the corner shop windows became blind. The Siwa food chain used ugly coloured tapes to block the view through the large windows. Especially in an older house and in the corner of two streets, that definitely looked dull and ugly.
When I came back home from Tallinn at the end of last year, I was more than pleased to note that a new café had moved in and all the windows were cleared and cleaned.
The new tenant is a small Helwsinki-based chain of Moomin Cafés. The interior van be observed through all shop windows and is welcoming for adults and kids alike. Even dogs, at least well-behaved ones, are allowed. I must later also test, how it all goes with Reina, my well-behaved Amstaff.
The furnishings consist of Aalto classics as well a updated retro sofas, tables and chairs. The customers do not get an overdose of plastic Moomin stuff, but there are a couple of large and white Moomin lamps. In the corner playroom there are number of Moomin books available on the wooden bookshelves. On the white back wall are fine black and white copies of Tove Jansson´s early works, and the colour scheme is nicely warm and low-key. There also are green plants and nice moss green velvet pillows on the window sills.
The hot drinks are served out of Arabia Moomin mugs, and one can pick up one´s favourite from the generous tray behind the coffee machine.
When I visited the café in an early Saturday evening, there were a few screaming (really loud) kids, but there also are hours when the atmosphere is quite calm. The staff also interferes, if the going gets too wild. The ladies and gentlemen behind the counter wear homely black and white cotton aprons. Best is that whoever was responsible for the interior, has also wanted to keep the original Elanto shop floor tiling. Ten points for that!
The overall touch is something that I might call ”nice everyday elegance”, in a balanced and casual way.
The café serves nice pastries, buns, cakes, sandwiches and salads as well as a variety of coffees and teas, plus fruity drinks.
The opening hours are 9-19. The clientele consists of Helsinki University students, mothers and fathers plus ganders and grandmas – and an ever changing variety of children.
There will be two more Moomin cafés opened in Helsinki, one in Mechelininkatu and the other one at the Stockmann department store. Officially the name is in Swedish – Tove Jansson wrote her first Moomin stories in Swedish.