What matters is on the inside.

Hi, who are you?
Hi, my name is Anni Eskeli, and I’m the co-owner, along with Kristiina Fekete-Perttala, of Cargo. I’m originally from Turku, coming from a family of entrepreneurs (I’ve been working with them for the past five years). We have managed many businesses, but never a restaurant before. Kristiina is a cook, and she’s always had a massive passion for cooking and coffee culture. We met at a tele-sales company, and we’ve been friends ever since.

How did Cargo come to exist?
We’ve had the idea of having our own place since forever, so five years ago we decided to work towards it. We asked the City Council whether they had any available plots, and they said that yes, they had this space here, but so far they hadn’t found anyone with a good idea for it. Then my brother Antti, who’s an industrial designer, had the idea of building something out of shipping containers. The long talks with the Council lasted three-and-a-half years, but we finally opened on the 15th of May. So it’s been a long process that slowly came along, slightly changing along the way, but more or less how we planned it.

From an architectural perspective, who designed and built this?
Even though we are not architects, we were very precise about what we wanted, the feel of the place, the atmosphere. So we contacted Arosuo Architects, a company from Turku which built my parent’s house some years ago, and they designed and constructed it for us. But it was a family thing, because my brother contributed, and my dad supervised the construction.

So we are inside metal containers now?
Yes, this is all made out of shipping containers that have been at sea. The lower level is made out of eight, and the upper level, where we have a bar, is made out of two (also the air conditioner and all the tech stuff is up there). The bar down here is a container, the toilet area is another, the kitchen too… The kitchen had everything ready when it came in, the oven was already there, because we pre-assembled everything in Turku, in this massive warehouse.

Incredible. How do you buy a container?
You search online (laughs). There are several places that sell them for storage, for festivals, coffee shops… You can buy them brand-new, or used, which means they have been at sea. We were looking for ones which were in good shape, but had been used, because they are cheaper, the taxes are lower, and also better from a recycling point of view.

Aesthetically, I was a bit surprised that the city let you build something so square in this spot, where all the forms around are curvy and flowing.
Yes, they were actually looking for something round, to go well with the surroundings. But we submitted our plans, indicating we also wanted something airy and light -all the windows downstairs can be rolled out of the way, and of course the terrace is open- and they were okay with it. Some people have mentioned that it might not be the best thing to have in this spot, but many others -locals- have said they love it ’cause actually there aren’t many coffee houses nearby, and because it feels like an extension of their living room; they can cross the street and come over here for a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, or for lunch.

Yes, let’s talk about food.
Our approach is not to try to offer a wide variety, but a spot-on selection to choose from. We have several breakfast options; always sandwiches, delicious croissants and cakes from Julien Petitpas (the French baker in Punavuori). Everything in our lunch is house-made by Jack, our English cook; he does all of our soups and makes all the stocks himself. The amazing bread is from Steve and his wife at Leipomo Limppu, in Lahti. And then in the evenings we have meat-boards and cheese-boards, to be had with a glass of wine from our selection, which is very good. Our coffee and tea comes from Johan & Nyström, a small Swedish roastery that delivers very high quality and organic / fair-trade products. People can also pick up their coffee and beans from us here.

Opening times?
On weekdays we open at 7:30 and close at 22. On Saturdays we open at 10 and close at 22. And on Sundays we open at 10 and close at 18. So we are open every day!

Are you gonna be able to cope with that?
(laughs) Yes! We have a very good staff. It’s also very important for us to greet customers with a smile and a positive attitude. If I myself go to a place that offers great food but has a bad service, I don’t come back. So I believe good vibes are more important than the food itself.

Plans for the future? Another Cargo somewhere?
Uh, not for the moment… We are focusing on this, at least for a while. Kristiina also has a two-year-old kid who needs attention, and that takes a lot of time… So I’m not saying no to expansion, but for the moment we’ll concentrate all our energies on this. So far the feedback has been super-positive.

Who came up with the name?
I honestly don’t remember. My brother designed the logo, but the name was a group thing. It was a bit obvious, ’cause it’s all about shipping containers… But it’s not about the container itself, but about what’s contained inside: the cargo!

Cargo Coffee & Kitchen is in Ruoholahdenranta 8. This is their website and Facebook.