During its two-month summer operating period, which ended in mid-August, the Kasarmitori Summer terrace offered culinary treats to and served as a safe meeting place for approximately 310,000 visitors. Terrace-goers also got to enjoy surprise performances, which were planned and realised in collaboration with approximately four hundred arts and culture professionals.
“People really found their way to Kasarmitori Square and made it their own. Some visitors thought that the intimate Kasarmitori Square was an even nicer terrace location than the considerably vaster Senate Square. Both have their advantages, of course, but turning a previously empty square into a bubbling summer oasis is in and of itself an exemplary act of placemaking,” says Area and Commercial Director Peggy Bauer from Helsingin Leijona Oy, who was responsible for the practical organisation of the Kasarmitori Square terrace.
The Kasarmitori Square terrace provided a welcome boost for city residents, domestic tourists, nearby businesses and the vitality of the city centre as a whole. The terrace garnered positive feedback for the range of foods offered by the restaurants, the surprising programming and the location itself.
“Relative to customer capacity, the visitor volume of the Kasarmitori Square terrace was nearly as high as that of the Senate Square terrace last summer. The number of food servings sold was even higher than last summer,” Bauer rejoices.
In addition to good food and drinks, summer at Kasarmitori Square was livened up with a programme contributed to by approximately 400 arts and culture professionals over the summer. Live gigs, dance, theatre, circus acts, visual arts...
“We have all missed live performances – whether as audience members or performers. It was simply delightful to get to surprise people with the summer programme, and of course to be able to provide employment to artists as well,” says the Programme Producer of the Kasarmitori Summer Programme Tiina Laukkanen from the City of Helsinki.
The seagull-deterring fishing line network piloted at Senate Square last summer proved its effectiveness at Kasarmitori Square this year as well. The unnoticeable network consisting of 13 kilometres of fishing line above the square kept the birds away, allowing terrace-goers to dine in peace.
“An important detail that you would have really only noticed if it weren’t there,” Bauer points out.
“Exceeded our expectations”
The Kasarmitori Square terrace featured a total of 13 restaurant operators, all of whom were satisfied with the results based on a feedback survey. The biggest hit of the summer was Baobao’s Asian-style steamed buns, or baos.
“The Kasarmitori Square terrace exceeded our expectations and provided a welcome boost to business in the summer season. We ended up selling a total of 39,610 baos over the summer!” – Mikko Heinonen, Baobao
“The feedback from customers was extremely positive. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the atmosphere was simply excellent.” – Oscar Borges, Vin-Vin x Story
“We received plenty of positive feedback and many customers promised to visit our actual restaurant as well. We also noticed an increase in our actual restaurant’s number of visitors over the summer.” – Ronny Malmberg, Lily Lee
“Kasarmitori Summer provided us with plenty of visibility and customers. The demand for pasta and drinks was a positive surprise – we even ended up running out of ravioli early on. We also managed to hire six new employees, of whom at least four will remain in our employ. Restaurant workers are in short supply these days, so I am pleased that we were able to expand our staff base.” – Elisa Torrisi, Locanda Scappi
Artists also had positive things to say about Kasarmitori Square, saying that it was an inspiring venue and praising the range of services.
“I found it very interesting that the square had both traditional ‘gigging musicians’ programming and also all kinds of surprising things that provide a kind of twist to everyday life and your perspective on urban space. For example, we performed on the same day as the Finnish Defence Forces’ military band, which kind of belongs there in front of Defence Command Finland, of course, but was still an amusingly absurd sight to enjoy there with a glass of wine and a delicious meal. Having such a wide variety of things and people there at the same square made it a genuine ‘urban’ space and event. Hopefully the concept will continue to liven up the city in the years to come was well!” – Valtteri Raekallio, Raekallio Corp.
The feedback from the Kasarmitori Square neighbourhood, including both residents and companies, was also primarily positive, and the terrace was not considered a nuisance. Not a single public disturbances was recorded at the terrace over the summer. Neighbouring companies also reported benefiting from the streams of people that the terrace brought to the area.
For many terrace-goers, Kasarmitori Square summer terrace seems to have been one of the highlights of the summer, with plenty of pictures and comments posted on social media.
“Kasarmitori Square in July was a terrific experience for us tourists!”
“It is great to just sit and watch while enjoying some snacks and maybe some rosé as well ❤”
“Hopefully next year we can have restaurants on BOTH Senate Square and Kasarmitori Square, and for the whole summer – all the way to September!”
“That's good to see Finland coming back to normal life.”
(Comments posted on the City of Helsink’s social media channels)
Kasarmitori Summer in figures12 June–15 August
13 restaurant operators
250 art experiences, 400 arts and culture professionals
560–640 customer seats in accordance with COVID restrictions in effect in the summer
11 hand washing stations
950 metres from Helsinki Central Railway Station
Summer street trials: Kasarmikatu and Pohjoinen Makasiinikatu
187,421 servings of food sold
224,056 servings of wine, beer and strong spirits sold
79,908 cans and bottles returned
0 public disturbances
approximately 13 km of seagull-deterring line
over 1,000 Instagram posts under the hashtags #kasarmitorinkesä #kasarmitorinkesäterassi
Top 5 restaurants
3. Pompier Espa
4. Locanda Scappi
5. Lily Lee
Top 5 dishes
1. 2 Buns combo (Baobao)
2. Pollo Taco (Tacotita)
3. 4 Tacos (Tacotita)
4. Fishy Taco (Tacotita)
5. Gnocci al Pesto di Basilico (Locanda Scappi)
Top 5 drinks
1. Donna Lee (Lily Lee)
2. Pittnauer rose könig (Lily Lee)
3. Brooklyn (Penny)
4. Limoncello Spritz (Locanda Scappi)
5. Wolf Rose (Baobao)
Kasarmitori Summer 2021 was a joint project of the City of Helsinki’s divisions. The practical organisation and coordination was handled by the City-owned real estate development company Helsingin Leijona Oy.
Photo: Camilla Bloom