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Finns anticipate alcohol-free Restaurant Day

Come Saturday May 19, cuisine aficionados and self-styled chefs will once more participate in the grass roots food festival known as Restaurant Day – but without alcohol.

Mikko Kjellberg laskee kotinsa ikkunasta ruokakoria kadulle narun avulla.
Image: YLE

Finland is preparing for its fifth Restaurant Day, a day-long celebration of food culture, in which ordinary citizens can set up a café or restaurant without a permit.

The first nationwide festival of food took place last year in May, when around 40 restaurants opened their doors in 13 cities. On the fourth occasion, in February this year, nearly 300 restaurants welcomed curious diners in 50 cities in 12 different countries.

Come Saturday May 19, cuisine aficionados and self-styled chefs will once more participate in the grass roots food festival – but without alcohol.

The Finnish food safety organization Valvira and police officials have emphasized that rookie restaurateurs are not allowed to serve alcohol without a valid permit.

According to Kari Kunnas of Valvira, owners of so-called pop-up restaurants who want to add alcoholic beverages to their menus could apply to their local administration offices for a liquor license.

In practice, however, the process for receiving a liquor license is anything but simple, requiring restaurateurs to apply months in advance. Moreover, Finnish licensing laws are very strictly observed.

“In practice it’s almost impossible to get a license if the restaurant is in your own home. The premise of the law is that the license will be granted to a business that is staffed by competent personnel,” Kunnas explained.

Police meanwhile, say they do not plan any special enforcement raids to prevent the sale of alcohol come Restaurant Day, but officers will merely keep an eye on the proceedings as they go about their regular duties.

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