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Finland / Restaurant Day

Restaurant Day

Restaurant Day

Restaurant Day – Event Details

Restaurant Day – Timo Santala  

Lecture Theatre Moray House, EH8 8AQ  –

6pm  22nd October 2014  

This year Nordic Horizons theme is democratic renewal – we thought that would be relevant however the vote goes on September 18th. The first event is a novel way to engage ethnic communities, cut through red tape and let people feel in charge of their cities.

Three years ago some friends in the Finnish capital Helsinki had an idea. Tough health and hygiene regulations had stopped Antti Tuomola from being able to set up a city restaurant. So he called on friends Olli Sirén and Timo Santala for help. They discovered restrictions didn’t apply to “pop-up” restaurants which opened for one day only. Restaurant Day was born.

After a brainstorming session, Facebook page, and social media campaign that captured imaginations 21st May 2011 became the first Restaurant Day with 40 one-day restaurants in towns and cities across Finland. On street corners, in public parks and in private homes, even on the beach, everyday folks set up restaurants, cafes and bars selling everything and anything, from gourmet hamburgers to exotic delicacies. There were no permissions, no requests, no barriers, no asking what is possible or what is allowed. And there was no trouble.

City officials wisely decided not to interfere and the idea spread. Now Restaurant Day is the world’s biggest food carnival and takes place in 55 countries, four times a year for 24 glorious, unregulated hours.

And according to Timo Santala, it really is glorious. “People used attics, basements, boats, wine cellars and unused railways tracks. Streets were filled with people talking to one another. Liquorice herring, mars bar cheesecakes and even grasshoppers were on sale. The creative energy released was amazing. There was a sushi auction where you had to bid to get the food. Blinis in a basket were lowered from a third floor window. One guy took a week off work to catch fish for his pop up restaurant. There was a finger food restaurant for babies, a restaurant for dogs, a hot chocolate moustache café, champagne tasting on a hot air balloon, a Viking menu in a tattoo shop, hangover pizzas complete with painkillers and a traditional Somali dinner served in a Somali home.”

Restaurant Day is now the world’s biggest food carnival and happens worldwide four times a year. All together 8500+ one-day restaurants by estimated 35 000+ restaurateurs have catered for estimated 930 000+ customers in the past Restaurant Days. The next scheduled date is 15th November — could a Scottish city joint the pop up restaurant movement? And might this be the perfect way to start cutting through the red tape, regulations and council bureaucracy that stop people making food, friends, new business ideas and fun?


Timo Santala complemented his presentation on ‘Restaurant Day’ with a series of striking images from Restaurants and people around the world. The slides give a sense of the fun and creativity which is at the heart of the idea of ‘Restaurant Day’. In this large set, there are many examples of ‘pop up’ restaurants.

Download Timo Santala Presentation in PDF format. (36 mb)

Please note all the images in Timo’s presentation are courtesy of Tuomas Sarparanta, Roy Bäckström, Timo Santala, Jari Lam, Kimmo Lind, Hanna Anttila, Heidi-Hanna Karhu, Anssi Kumpula, Matti Keski-Kohtamäki, Lassi Häkkinen, Eino Nurmisto, Henri Ilanen & Fernanda Peruzzo. Thanks to all concerned for such beautiful images.

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You can also listen to an audio recording of  Timo giving the presentation here.

Audio Recording and Video Interview

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