Six Hour Stroll – Robacabana
Iso Roobertinkatu, Punavuori’s iconic party street, buzzes life. It’s time to throw our writer-photographer duo to the flowing river of cement-covered street life, with no plan and no pre-organised meetups. Now let’s see what’s up with people of Iso Roba.
2 PM, BLACKDOOR
It’s a greyish autumn afternoon on a very basic Wednesday. We start our stroll by walking straight to Black Door, a British style bar that serves “bad humor and excellent beers”. We have a chat ‘n’ shoot with Kusti, Black Door’s bar manager.
“It’s a good day; we have our own trusted clientele in the house and good vibes. There’s not really a one specific group of people coming around though – all sorts of people are warmly welcome. Beer trends? Well IPA boom is still alive, lagers & sours sell great, too. Last words? Welcome to Robacabana to party!”
2.30 PM, SINNE
Galleria Sinne is a free-entry gallery space for modern art. We step in and find curator Markus Åström in his office. We talk about Sinne and enjoy a lil’ swing in the art hammock.
“At Sinne, we wish to stir things up in people. Our program scale is quite large – from young artists to established ones, with a Nordic scope. A weird fact? Well, there was this cat incident; someone’s cat was lost and after a lot of searching it was spotted here one night. Police got involved and all sorts of calls were made here and there – I was in US traveling and not understanding a thing… ☺ Back to art – in general, I’m inspired by art that I don’t quite understand. So, a sense of mystery fascinates me and tends to draw me in. Last words? Come around, it’s free to step in and enjoy art!”
3 PM, KING’S SEX
At the back room of legendary King’s Sex, porn emperor Tom Sjöberg sits all-comfy in his armchair, listening to politics news in TV. Our visit turns out to be a longer stop. After the chat, our photographer Antti buys a legit King’s Sex t-shirt.
“I’m the last calcified memory of the old Rööperi, which had charm but also violence, crimes, guns, all sorts of things…” Read the full interview page xx.
4 PM, LALLI SAVOLAINEN
We wander down full 2 meters and find Lalli Savolainen, a multi-talented creator of cloths, interior pieces, hair, and style. We shoot a quick portrait and hear about his latest goings.
“My fall is feeling quite amazing, I’m just getting started with a new knit manufacturer in Köyliö. As a place, Roba is exciting – just like Punavuori in general. The area is full of small little spots, like ours where you can get everything from hair to make-up to styling, coffee, and shoes. All sorts of people visit us. A weird fact? I found this place through a psychic, it’s a longer story but this is where we ended up.”
4.15 PM JACKIE’S
Time for a second beer. We head to Jackie’s and buy some from Mikko Lehtovaara. Jackie’s used to be the iconic We got beef, so it’s a good place to let memories run wild, refresh our creative duo and hear about the current news of Jackie’s.
“I’ve been working in this same address for 22 years. Roba used to be livelier and somewhat more rugged party street – those were the times of We got Beef, DTM, Playground, Rosegarden, and Lost & Found. Now it has gotten cleaner and there’re more families living in the area, too. I enjoy it here; this is a good place to be – or maybe I’m just institutionalized. Jackie’s has been here for 5 years, and it hasn’t been completely easy with huge street renovations, Covid-times and so on. Now things seem to be normalizing. One memory about We got Beef? There’s a lot I can’t say, but in the closing party we were both full and also had about 800 people outside partying – that night turned out to be a full-on festival.”
5 PM, ART MANAGEMENT
Next up, we spot an office place with founder and producer Outi Järvinen from Art Management inside. She serves us coffee and marshmallows and we talk about dancers and art making.
“We offer management services for 50 freelancing and free artists, consisting mostly of performers, choreographers and dancers. In short, this is the workplace of my dreams. In Finnish dance scene, I’m inspired by different artists’ personal aspirations and aesthetics – they all have their own creative paths and ways of expressing. For young artists, my advice is to get help (not to come here, because we’re full) – to be open for collaborations, networking and help in general. “I’m not interested in competing, I hope we all make it”, is a great saying that summarizes my way of thinking.”
6 PM, FAFA’S
We tour the street and visit several restaurants along Pikku Roba, but they’re too busy to be interviewed as they’re getting ready to their evenings serve. Instead, we have a tiniest chat with the friendly guys from falafel fav’ Fafa’s, then raincheck to BUD in Uudenmaankatu for a bit of rest.
“Punavuori is a great area, we have a lot of happy customers and they keep on enjoying Fafa’s food.”
7 PM ROBA BUONA
In Italian food delicacy Roba Buona, Alessandro Chiodo serves amazing quality foodie treats – all from pastas to cheeses and sausages.
“Roba Buona is a deli selling Italian treats, and we’ve been here in Roba for a year now. We get our products from small quality producers. Fresh cheeses are super popular, like burrata, mozzarella di bufala and one of the newer products, redwine soaked blue cheese, which is amazing. Our original protein rich pasta is really nice, and also green olives, which you can eat without getting your face all puffed from the excess salt… Not forgetting meats and sausages, like our spicy N’duja. Welcome to enjoy all things delicious!”
7.30 PM, CHAOS
It’s been a long day & we’re getting hungry. Luckily, our last stop is restaurant Chaos, where we get to sit down for a chat with the head chef Jenni Tuominen. Jenni lets us taste Chaos’s salmon dish, and its chili-ed sweetness goes down like the sweetest nectar from heavens.
“I just had a one day off – so today is a busy day. Our name, Chaos, comes from not having a clear focus in the menu, instead it has a lot of great tastes from all over the world. Food is just too good, and it has found its way into the hearts of people: we have a lot of returning customers that love the place. Many are surprised about our spacious downstairs, which is a former club venue (Rosegarden & Playground) completely renovated into restaurant. In general, I’d wish Finns to have a more active and relaxed culture of eating out – you don’t always have to eat the whole menu but just have a few portions of something small, a glass of wine and enjoy your time!”
Hi from our team of strollers!
“It’d been one hustle-of-a-week, and since there’s was no plan, we ended cruising up and down Iso-Roba, chatting up all-new people and just soaking in Roba’s autumn-ish atmosphere. We met creatives, artists, entrepreneurs, legends, normcore folks, chefs… Friendly, casual moments lined up with chance-meetings. A few beers along the way made this a softly wonderful and slowly lingering stroll. Now go & experience Roba for yourself!”