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Why American style diners would never work in Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:17 am

I miss American style diners – A massive menu with every food item imaginable prepared for your 24/7, a relaxed atmosphere, and cheap prices. You’ll find multiple diners even in the smallest of American towns.

Who wouldn’t like a concept like that? And why don’t we have ANY in Finland? (please correct me if I’m wrong)

Well first off, nothing is cheap in Finland, that $8 cheeseburger would quickly become $20 in Finland. This is seems to be the fault of many new concepts introduced in Finland, they’re way overpriced and the concept is quickly deemed a failure.

I’m always in awe while at Don Corleone‘s in Kamppi. There’s ALWAYS a line, yet the dozen other restaurants around it are empty. Why? Cause they figured out the secret: Great food at a cheap price. OMG!! It took Italian immigrants to figure that out in Finland.

Second, a 24-hour dinner would be full of drunk, obnoxious locals. No one could dine in peace. There’d be yelling, fights, puking…they’d need a team of security guards to control the restaurant. The only people desperate enough to put up with that shit are foreigners who sell just pizza and kebab.

Finland does already have the portable grills that sell cheap sausages and french fries, so maybe there’s no need. But who wouldn’t rather dine indoors instead of out in -20C snow? And who wouldn’t rather have a beer with their food?

So should I quit my job, open a diner, and rake in the millions? Or would the concept be DOA?


  • http://www.whoinfinland.blogger.com Deb

    Hey Phil,
    It’s Sunday and I am so mourning the absense of the homestyle diner. Bottomless cups of coffee served with a smile. Huge stacks of pancakes and sweet sausage patties you can’t possibly finish. Sigh. I was in a McDonalds in Tampere in the middle of the night not too long ago (buying a cup of sludge) and believe it or not, it was a tame crowd. But there was a big guy who seemed to be standing guard over the proceedings. ;-)

  • Rallu

    here: http://www.diner.fi/
    Though not open through night and prices are high.

    It used to be small, cheap and nice, but then they got greedy. And removed chicken fingers from menu -> never went again.

  • HangLoose

    What? You a foreigner opening a dinner in finland?
    First of all you are not as clean as the finns might want (cos all foreigners are dirty but the finns think they are the cleanest people in the entire world)

    Second of all, if you food will ever be cheaper… They will treat it as a second class place to eat where just students and drunks will go. Finns LIKE to spend loads of money on food… The mentality is if its expensive MUST be good and clean (as long as its owned by a finn).

    So dont lose your time. Idea is great and I think every foreigner that enjoys their native food thought about it (one more point is that finns think that potatoes and minced meat is Gods food, countless finns i know came back from cuisine paradises just to complain and say they miss this crap). Heck, the “oldest” restaurant in tampere is from the 70s…

    This is my biggest complaint about living here.

    ps. have you seen how they react when you go to a asian store? “the food is cheap there because is dirty” said many of the cleanest-people-in-the-entire-world

  • toivo

    “Bottomless cups of coffee served with a smile.”

    Coffee from a pot? No way, finns only sip latte or cappuccino.

  • http://www.whoinfinland.blogger.com Deb

    I don’t know, Toivo. I see a lot of people pouring their coffee from the pot – haha.

  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil

    here: http://www.diner.fi/

    Looks good! Even breakfast too. A shame it’s up in Tampere and not down here.

  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil

    ps. have you seen how they react when you go to a asian store? “the food is cheap there because is dirty” said many of the cleanest-people-in-the-entire-world

    Yeah, all food products that are imported are shit, even from Sweden. North Africa and Asia are especially bad. lol.

  • Anonymous

    American diners, yuck, grease, deep fried anything, mayonnaise and more grease. Doesn’t sound like a winning concept here. I guess Memphis is the closest to that in Helsinki: http://www.memphis.fi/

  • http://img219.imageshack.us/img219/812/trivihaqu8.jpg SO

    There were lots of cheap eating places in Helsinki in 1960′s. They were usually called “RUOKABAARI”, small family-owned places, where they served basic finnish food for basic finns. This culture was totally decimated by liberation of beer. When a food-joint started to serve beer, its was occupied by drunks and eating customer diaappeared. And then, because of noise, the place soon lost its license and premises.

  • frenchman

    “American style diners”? Such a periphrase phil to describe fastfood or junkfood.

  • Mussuka

    HangLoose – your post is a winner:)) I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. 10/10:)

  • presso

    The oldest restaurant in Tampere just turned 100 years. But never mind…

  • v.i.lenin

    I’m with ya 100% — I totally miss that scene. 24-hour diners (or at least late-night), usually run by Greeks. New Jersey! Route 3! Route 46! And I think the main issue is that yes, you have to make a lot of money in the evenings when the bars are closing, but here you’d need a portsari because of all the assholes who think they’re entitled to be their lovable drunk selves in a crowded dining room — there’s no culture of taking it down a notch in a civilized, conversational way — unless you named it (say) “Herran Jatkot” :) Having a portsari could rack up some serious costs, when an ideal diner runs on one cook and one or two waitresses.

  • Op

    Wife’s always telling me what a great idea it would be to open a Cuban restaurant/festival food stand in Finland. “Oh, it’s different; folks there would love it.”

    Right, I say, if I can disguise beans for potatoes, mojo marinade for nuclear-red marinade, and, well, claim that there is no other spice but salt and allspice in the food.

    DOA idea.

  • v.i.lenin

    If everyone is so sure that Finns are all meat-and-potatoes lumpenproletariat, then how do you exlpain all the Thai and Chinese and Mexican and other restaurants ? And don’t dismiss it with a wave of the hand — “Oh, you know, even savages need variety in their diet”. Admit it, the younger generation here is a lot more adventurous than the people you met when you first moved here.

  • v.i.lenin

    DC (Georgetown neighborhood) had two 24 hour diners — Au Pied du Cochon and the “PLO Café”. A guy could hang out and drink coffee all night and eat something light and read whatever, including the next day’s NY Times and Washington Post that hit the newstands at midnight-ish. That was the life! It might work here in the summer. Like, Karhupuisto has a late night grillikioski and a bunch of places to rest one’s butt. Where do I get my Hesari at midnight ??

  • Chen

    Why would you sell good food for a low price when Finns demand the opposite. You don’t have much business sense, do ya Phil? ;-)

    But, if you decide to take the plunge, then invest in some industrial strength puke-basins. Otherwise, they’ll use your trash cans :-)

  • v.i.lenin

    Ideas: Make people order end pay when they come in, so that they commit some money up front — this encourages playing nice. And make the place long and narrow, so you can put the quiet ones (like, couples) on one end (by the windows) and the more boisterous ones on the other (by the bathrooms)

  • S.Alainen

    Well, yes, us Finns have been brainwashed to believe all imported food is dirty. A stupid attempt to protect domestic farmers and the huge subsidies they get from taxpayers’ pockets.

    But I think the point here is high labour costs. You can’t sell ‘great food at a cheap price’ if you have to hire someone to help you. Going solo is an option, but then one is competing with the pizza and kebab businesses where a family of 5-10 people work 14 hour days 7 days a week.

    For those who think all Finns prefer expensive food. Have two words for you: Euromokko, Tampere.

  • http://www.stockholmslender.blogspot.com/ mjr

    Well, my heart bleeds for your 24/7 apple pies and (dish) watery corn/rice beer, Phil, but in the meanwhile the libertarian house magazine The Economist has listed Helsinki as the 7th best city in the world to live in (with no US cities ahead of it). The link below (though unfortunately in the strange gibberish we call the Finnish language, the story did not make it into the international edition yet). So, not too bad still, even if we strangely don’t manage to be completely American so that you wouldn’t even notice living abroad, Phil…


  • http://knizzlefoshizzle.blogspot.com Larjmarj

    Jeez…someone call a WAhhhhhmbulance!

    I would miss diner food too. I think one of my fav’s here is the Detroiter Truck Stop. Truly and iconic locale for anyone seeking good eats cheap. Seriously, where else do you go after the bar closes besides Denny’s (ew).

    Sounds like you might need a bouncer if you decide to open one. Though I don’t think many of the diner’s here serve beer or any other kind of alcohol.

  • philtard

    If Don Corleone passes as cheap, then please do look at http://www.rafla.fi/morrisons/
    Absolutely fantastic food with ridicilous price on lunch hours.
    Also very diner-style menu overall (except with class and quality ingredients).

  • Pexi

    I were in the US and Canada a while back and those diners really rocked. Prices they had were ridiculously low! Great places to have a breakfast. I thought too that they wouldn’t work in Finland due to high prices but are prices high here just because Finns are greedy bastards or is it because we’re (people & companies) being taxed to death?

  • infinndel the jenkki dogg

    After ***PIGGING OUT*** out at ameriKKKan diner…teh infinndel pig gets his revenge! ;-)

  • El Capone

    #20: Here’s the article from The Economist.

    This MUST be racist socialist rambling, huh? Cue Mussuka and CMQ…1,2,3… :-)

  • v.i.lenin

    @23: Good question! Maybe Finns calculate prices to cover costs at minimum predicted volume, while Yanquis calculation prices much more optimistically ? Of course the high prices of the food inputs here are bad too. I’ve been to tukku and the prices are the same as at supermarkets ! The only difference is you get an itemized receipt. Frickin’ crazy.

  • http://www.whoinfinland.blogspot.com Deb

    MJR – Just because someone says they actually like something that is not Finnish does not mean it automatically translates into ‘Finland sucks.’ That’s in your mind, your insecurity – not ours. We like American diners. So what? I never felt the need to attack my Finnish friends in the US when they said they missed something Finnish.

    And listen to this one. As far as food goes. Well, there has to be some merits to a colder climate. I always assume the crops aren’t sprayed as much as they would be in a warmer place. I’m chemical conscious so I think about these things. I appreciate that the environment is taken into consideration in farming practices here. And I believe in protecting local farming so I probably do buy Finnish when I can. Just as I would buy from smaller, local farms in the United States that adhere to environmentally friendly practices.

    But I do have to confess. I really HATE lingon berries – and salmiaki. Should I pack my bags?

  • v.i.lenin

    @26: That’s what I’ve heard, that the hard frosts (that go deep into the ground) kill the bugs and it really reduces the need for bug spray. Of course, global warming will soon put an end to that d’oh

  • v.i.lenin

    Oh and of course FInns might NEVER get the idea of free bar snacks. Here’s a mouth-watering review of NYC:

  • keitai

    While Don Corleone is often full, I wouldn’t say the restaurants around where empty. In fact often it seems hard to find a free seat in any of the restaurants in that corner of kamppi.

    Oh, and having eaten a week american breakfast and dinner in states, I’m no longer surprised why the average BMI ratio in states is what it is – please don’t bring that here :P

  • v.i.lenin

    @29: Yeah the traditional Yanqui breakfast is OK if you work out in the field sall day, but if ya sit on yet fat butt in an office all day …

  • http://www.stockholmslender.blogspot.com/ mjr

    Well, yeah, Deb I know, but what I find very annoying in Phil is that he simply cherry picks all data that fits his prejudices and treats that as some sort of serious evidence of his libertarian ideology of being true. That’s not intellectually honest. I know it’s silly to counter this with equally one sided data, but at least it puts Phil’s postings in perspective. As for Finnish “insecurity” in general, you might have a point, but here I feel that I’m engaging a libertarian with social liberal arguments. I would not make the USA into a Finland (even if it were possible, which it’s not, but nor would I want to make Finland into a USA – and it is kind of boring to find Phil regularly surprised that this is not the USA and explaining the differences with superficial ideology instead of culture and history, which by far are more important factors in this traditionally very non-socialist country). So there you go.

  • jagged

    Too late Phil, S-chain did it already:

    http://www.marmai.fi/uutiset/article298615.ece?s=r&wtm=Markkinointi_Mainonta/-11062009 (sorry, FI only)

    Anyways, their concept is exactly like a Diner, let’s see how it goes. S has the money and the leverage (due to brand, and plenty of customers opting for their services just because of the bonus system) so they might be able to pull it off.

  • majava

    S has the money and the leverage (due to brand, and plenty of customers opting for their services just because of the bonus system) so they might be able to pull it off. Time for the EU commission for competition to come and have a look.

  • Nick

    Dunno if you get some discount at Don Corleone’s but when I’ve been there it’s been bloody expensive. Or maybe you’re just earning more money than I am and have a different concept of ‘expensive’ and ‘money’.

  • Risto

    Is there any reason to believe that S’ proposed offering won’t also be bloody expensive? What’s the use in having a 24hr diner if it’s grotesquely overpriced?

    I agree that US cities aren’t the most ‘liveable,’ but at least you can afford to do fun stuff in them on the weekends – and on any other night including Sunday! 24hrs in many cases! And whereas American corn/rice beer does suck, at least you can buy real, european beer at reasonable prices there(reasonable considering that it’s imported).

    It’s too bad that US cities and surrounds lack the basics: bicycling culture and infrastructure, well thought-out pedestrian facilities and adequate public transit. Some places have components of these, but few exhibit modern, comprehensive solutions. I see these failures as a product of American isolationism more than anything else.

    Things might change some time in the future, but first Americans need to discover the high quality alternatives that exist elsewhere. Until it happens, there’ll surely be many other places to occupy top slots.


    But let’s remember that these are highly subjective; Helsinki at #8?! I suppose I could see how ‘visiting journalists’ would rank it so highly, but they should actually try living there! There’s a huge difference between going to Helsinki on a company’s ‘expense account,’ and living there on a tiny Finnish income. I’ve lived in (or near) at least a half-dozen cities that are better overall, especially considering the price structures. Even one in the US.

  • jagged

    @ 32: Amen to that, hate to have watched many (too many) facilitated gas stations get wiped out by the ABC concept (they hit the nail with that), as well as the hypermarkets all over the place running over small businesses. It’s novadays pretty much a ménage à troi with K, S and Ykkösbonus, with gradually decreasing opportunities for small business to flourish especially in grocery business, seen them being killed one at a time, r.i.p.

  • mister evil


  • mister evil

    FUCK YOU SCHWARZMANN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mister evil

    PHIL YOU ARE GAY!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mister evil

    GO FUCK YOURSELF PHIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mister evil


  • v.i.lenin

    Apparently Mr Evil is compensating for a tiny penis

  • Al

    re: Second, a 24-hour diner would be full of drunk, obnoxious locals. No one could dine in peace. There’d be yelling, fights, puking…they’d need a team of security guards to control the restaurant.

    Reminds me of dining establishments from my home town in Ontario, Canada. So! What else is new & shocking in Finland?

  • Jason

    Ok, I admit that I’ve never been to Suomi. However, I’ve looked up a bunch of websites devoted to Finland – including this one.

    Having said that, have any of you guys been here? http://www.chicos.fi/

  • Jason

    Too bad Chico’s doesn’t serve Buffalo Chicken Wings (according to their menu).

  • Anonymous

    This remind of what I saw in a store in vaasa, they had ben & jerrys ice cream. But they where 5 euros for a tiny a can, what the fuck you cock gobbling fucking shit dicked ass bitches motherfucking overpriced ass dhiaerekblrlaargrgh!

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  • Jason

    #48, nice try. Most Yanks know this to be a scam. Hopefully, the Finns have caught on to this as well and that your little “operation” gets shut down.

  • Widdershins

    8 dollars for a fucking cheeseburger sounds expensive to me.

  • Widdershins


  • S.Y

    3. HangLoose,

    Actually the asian restaurants really aren’t that clean and the working conditions can be quite poor. Generally restaurants owned by people of asian or middle eastern descent are more likely to have bad working conditions and/or bad hygiene.

    You’ll be better off looking at how long a restaurant has been in the business and run by the current owner. If it’s been unchanged for more than 2 years then it’ll most likely pass any inspection with only minor faults or none.

  • Henz

    <how do you exlpain all the Thai and Chinese and Mexican and other restaurants ?<


    the food tastes finnish, that's why. i've been to two good asian restaurants in this country, and a load of faux mexican ones.

    i mean an amarillo taco has rice and mince meat in it. for the love of god.

  • Jennifer

    There was actually a place here in Vaasa called “American Diner”. It didn’t last long as the food was horrible and of course way over priced. 8 euros for Campbell’s soup!

    I don’t miss 24 hour diners as much as I do cheap food and FRIENDLY service.

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