Majakka’s history

Majakan historiaa

KESKI-SAIMAA CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY OPENS RESTAURANT MAJAKKA

Keski-Saimaa Co-operative Society rented a restaurant venue on Savonlinna’s Satamakatu street in 1967.

Restaurant Rio, which was owned by Helmi McKay, had operated in the same spot since the 1950s.

Rio’s name was spelt with capital letters and locals started calling it R ten (R10).

As the restaurant was transferred to the new owner, Keski-Saimaa Co-operative Society organised a naming competition for the restaurant.

The competition winner was the late Savonlinna school principal Veikko Ervola with his suggestion, Majakka.

The new tenants changed the look of the restaurant straight away, and Restaurant Majakka opened its doors on 16 February 1969.

The restaurant’s new owner extended the venue soon after opening into the sports and fishing store next door.

MAJAKKA’S FAMOUS STAINED-GLASS PAINTING

Although Restaurant Majakka’s interior has changed over the years, one detail, the stained-glass painting on the back wall, has remained the same since Rio’s time.

The painting is by Kaapo Rissala and co.

The story goes that a group of artists was celebrating in Majakka’s cabinet and could not pay for the bill at the end of the night, so it was paid for with a stained-glass painting.

The name of the painting is “Sugarloaves”, and it depicts a seaside landscape in Rio.

One of the women in the painting is Helmi McKay, the owner of Restaurant Rio, the predecessor of Majakka.

HELMI MCKAY

Restaurant Rio, Majakka’s predecessor, was founded by the flamboyant businesswoman Helmi McKay, who was a member of the Tolkki entrepreneurial family. Helmi was born on 25 June 1901 so, when Rio opened, she was 54 years old. By that time, Helmi had owned a variety of businesses.

Among other things, she had opened two fashion shops called Muotiaitta.

In 1938, Helmi became a brewer when Tolkki’s family founded the Savonlinna brewery.

LEIJONA BEER

When the brewery was taken over by the Tolkki family, it employed more than 30 people.

Managed by Helmi and closely supervised by Brewer Walter Frensky from Bavaria, the brewery produced the famous Leijona beer until the late 1960s, which was naturally served in Rio. Leijona beer was sold elsewhere in Finland too. Leijona, i.e. “Helmi’s pale” received many international awards.

The most fascinating “beer award” was the first prize Helmi McKay received in a twist competition in an international brewer’s meeting in Reykjavik in Iceland in the 1960s.

The visit by Diners Club’s American director at the brewery, in Rio and at Helmi’s home in Linnanhovi in the early 1960s is a testimony to Helmi’s good international connections.

Thanks to Helmi, Leijona beer, Rio and Hotel Tott were added on Diners Club’s list of recommendations which did not include very many items in Finland. For example, Hotel Adlon in Helsinki and Seurahuone in Lahti were also on the list.

PRESENT DAY AT MAJAKKA

At the mature age of over 50, Restaurant Majakka keeps going at the heart of Savonlinna harbour offering culinary experiences made with local ingredients 362 days a year.

The milieu and decor have remained nautical to this day, and the miniature ships and pictures of lighthouses and ships are central to the interior.

In the summertime, a pleasant terrace is set up outside the restaurant, and there you can enjoy the sun and Savonlinna’s summer without forgetting tasty food and drinks.

Restaurant Majakka is part of the Suur-Savo Co-operative Society and employs more than a dozen restaurant workers throughout the year.

KESKI-SAIMAA CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY OPENS RESTAURANT MAJAKKA

Keski-Saimaa Co-operative Society rented a restaurant venue on Savonlinna’s Satamakatu street in 1967.

Restaurant Rio, which was owned by Helmi McKay, had operated in the same spot since the 1950s.

Rio’s name was spelt with capital letters and locals started calling it R ten (R10).

As the restaurant was transferred to the new owner, Keski-Saimaa Co-operative Society organised a naming competition for the restaurant.

The competition winner was the late Savonlinna school principal Veikko Ervola with his suggestion, Majakka.

The new tenants changed the look of the restaurant straight away, and Restaurant Majakka opened its doors on 16 February 1969.

The restaurant’s new owner extended the venue soon after opening into the sports and fishing store next door.

MAJAKKA’S FAMOUS STAINED-GLASS PAINTING

Although Restaurant Majakka’s interior has changed over the years, one detail, the stained-glass painting on the back wall, has remained the same since Rio’s time.

The painting is by Kaapo Rissala and co.

The story goes that a group of artists was celebrating in Majakka’s cabinet and could not pay for the bill at the end of the night, so it was paid for with a stained-glass painting.

The name of the painting is “Sugarloaves”, and it depicts a seaside landscape in Rio.

One of the women in the painting is Helmi McKay, the owner of Restaurant Rio, the predecessor of Majakka.

HELMI MCKAY

Restaurant Rio, Majakka’s predecessor, was founded by the flamboyant businesswoman Helmi McKay, who was a member of the Tolkki entrepreneurial family. Helmi was born on 25 June 1901 so, when Rio opened, she was 54 years old. By that time, Helmi had owned a variety of businesses.

Among other things, she had opened two fashion shops called Muotiaitta.

In 1938, Helmi became a brewer when Tolkki’s family founded the Savonlinna brewery.

LEIJONA BEER

When the brewery was taken over by the Tolkki family, it employed more than 30 people.

Managed by Helmi and closely supervised by Brewer Walter Frensky from Bavaria, the brewery produced the famous Leijona beer until the late 1960s, which was naturally served in Rio. Leijona beer was sold elsewhere in Finland too. Leijona, i.e. “Helmi’s pale” received many international awards.

The most fascinating “beer award” was the first prize Helmi McKay received in a twist competition in an international brewer’s meeting in Reykjavik in Iceland in the 1960s.

The visit by Diners Club’s American director at the brewery, in Rio and at Helmi’s home in Linnanhovi in the early 1960s is a testimony to Helmi’s good international connections.

Thanks to Helmi, Leijona beer, Rio and Hotel Tott were added on Diners Club’s list of recommendations which did not include very many items in Finland. For example, Hotel Adlon in Helsinki and Seurahuone in Lahti were also on the list.

PRESENT DAY AT MAJAKKA

At the mature age of over 50, Restaurant Majakka keeps going at the heart of Savonlinna harbour offering culinary experiences made with local ingredients 362 days a year.

The milieu and decor have remained nautical to this day, and the miniature ships and pictures of lighthouses and ships are central to the interior.

In the summertime, a pleasant terrace is set up outside the restaurant, and there you can enjoy the sun and Savonlinna’s summer without forgetting tasty food and drinks.

Restaurant Majakka is part of the Suur-Savo Co-operative Society and employs more than a dozen restaurant workers throughout the year.

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