Grandma’s recipes are used in mother’s and daughter’s café

May 12, 2022

Maria Nuutinen changed her field and bought a café with her daughters Elli and Sofia Uuksulainen. In the business acquisition, they received help from NewCo Helsinki’s business advice.

Fresh bun smells at the Rakastan (I Love) café in Helsinki. Trams rumble along Mannerheimintie, but the atmosphere is peaceful inside the 175-year-old bakery.

– It still feels unreal that we finally have our own café. And on top of all, in such a historic location, right in the city centre, Maria Nuutinen says.

The café, which opened in the courtyard of Villa Hakasalmi at the beginning of April, is a family business of Maria and her daughters, Elli and Sofia Uuksulainen. The project began three years ago, when Maria was on leave rotation from her permanent job as Executive Director of the substance abuse unit.

– We first planned with Sofia that the two of us could start organising events and parties. When the mother left for rotation leave, the pieces fell into place and the café idea was born, Elli Uuksulainen remembers.

Last autumn, the trio started looking for a vacant retail space in Helsinki. The café business next to the Villa Hakasalmi happened to be for sale. The location was perfect and the kitchen was readily available in the city’s rental place.

– The previous owners longed for a life change and wanted to give up the café. We were ready to take on a new challenge, Maria says.

Accurate calculations of profitability

Maria, Elli and Sofia received help from NewCo Helsinki’s business advisory services for the establishment of the company, the business acquisition and profitability calculations. Together with a business advisor, they assessed what the value of the café with its machinery would be. The permits for the café operations were already there from the previous company.

– Even though we did the calculations ourselves and tried to take everything into account, we wanted to hear the views of a professional. The business advisor encouraged us even when we felt we were  losing our faith in the project.

The paperwork for the business acquisition was handled by a business broker. The bank granted a loan to the new entrepreneurs and it was guaranteed by Finnvera.

There have been a lot of new things to learn in the early stages of the company. Maria, Elli and Sofia have sought a balance between the café’s product range, marketing and work input.

– We have already noticed that it takes a lot of commitment to run the café. Weekends are the busiest, so there is no chance for free-time then. But maybe in the future we can hire more labour here.

The customers and new visitors of the previous café have been attracted by lunch soups, organic wines and the café’s speciality, Karelian pies. They are baked using the recipe of Grandma Meri, who was from Karelia. All products are vegan.

– We decided to specialise in Finnish traditional delicacies and combine responsibility with it. Grandma also used to favour vegetarian food, did recycling and avoided waste, Maria explains.

The name of the café, Rakastan (I Love), sums up the main purpose of life for entrepreneurs.

– Everybody is welcome at our café. We want everyone to feel accepted and loved here.

Permit matters are taken care of in a timely manner

Elie El-Khour, who has worked as a business advisor at NewCo Helsinki for 16 years, is familiar with the regulations in the restaurant industry. When a business deal is planned, the groundwork must be done carefully.

– It’s a good idea to ask the seller for a company’s profitability calculations and find out why he or she wants to give up the business. Is it because there weren’t enough customers or is it about, for example, retirement, El-Khouri says.

Elie El-Khouri

Elie El-Khouri, Business Advisor.

The location of the business must also be taken into account when assessing profitability. Customers with cars will appreciate the shopping mall’s parking spaces, but a business place in the city centre can also be a viable solution if it is by good public transport links and a busy street.

It is often an advantage if the business place has already had a company in the same industry. In the café and restaurant sector, this means, for example, that the business premises have a fully functioning kitchen with appliances.

– In the case of a leased space, it should be clarified in good time with the landlord what the rent of the retail space is for a new entrepreneur. When there is a change of owner, there is often pressure to increase the rent.

Restaurant companies are subject to, among other things, liquor and food permits as well as hygiene passports. Before starting operations, the health authorities will check that the space is suitable for a restaurant or café. The business premises must also comply with fire safety regulations.

But there is no need to be frightened about the permit jungle. NewCo Helsinki’s business advice provides help at every stage.

– Often, the seller and buyer of a business may come together for business advice, where we consider a mutually satisfactory price for the business acquisition and its financing. It is good to have this discussion even when it comes to a generational change in a family business, Elie El-Khouri recalls.

NewCo Helsinki’s extensive network of experts also offers the services of law firms, accounting firms, insurance companies, financial institutions and advertising agencies.

Support for entrepreneurship

NewCo Helsinki’s business advisors provide confidential business advisory services to lend a hand to entrepreneurs who are starting a new business and developing their operations. Check out our free-of-charge business advisory services and our events in event calendar.

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