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City of Helsinki selling historic eatery to restaurant chain co-op

The 153-year-old Kappeli restaurant is one of the first landmarks many arriving tourists see in the city.

Esplanadin puistossa Helsingissä sijaitseva Ravintola Kappeli
Kappeli restaurant at Helsinki's Esplanade Park. Image: Jari Pussinen / Yle

The city of Helsinki announced that it has agreed to sell the century-and-a-half Kappeli restaurant to the restaurant chain cooperative HOK-Elanto for around 20 million euros.

The cooperative is already the storied restaurant's tenant and operates it under the Raflaamo brand.

According to its long term strategy plan, the city has decided to sell off unneeded properties, Helsinki's urban environment director Mikko Aho explained.

The property is in need of major renovation, but the city has chosen not to make further investments in the building, the construction of which was completed in 1867. According to the city, the building has an indoor air problem stemming from the structure's basement, which also needs maintenance.

Story continues after photo

Kuvassa on ravintola Kappeli vuonna 1973.
File photo taken in 1973 of the interior of Kappeli restaurant. Image: Kari Hakli / Helsingin kaupunginmuseo

Kappeli restaurant - designed by architect Axel Hampus Dalström - is located at the southern end of the city's leafy Esplanade Park and adjacent to the South Harbour Market Square, where many tourists make their first steps in the city as they arrive on cruise ships.

Throughout its long history, the restaurant became particularly popular among artists, musicians and poets. It's best-known clientele include classical composer Jean Sibelius, author Juhani Aho and poet Eino Leino.

The repair and renovation bills will amount to an estimated 7.6 million euros, which will be the responsibility of HOK-Elanto. The land on which the restaurant is located still belongs to the city but the cooperative has the right to lease it for the next 50 years.

Urban development director Aho said the city offered to sell the restaurant in an open tender in March.

Kuvassa on ravintola Kappeli vuonna 1885.
File photo taken in 1885 of Helsinki's Kappeli restaurant. Image: Riis Charles / Helsingin kaupunginmuseo

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