A customer-oriented way of working - Taukoherkut Café and Bakery has taken this approach a step farther. In Ilomantsi, locals know that customers are welcome whenever the lights are shining in the windows. The bakery pampers customers from near and far with its enthusiastic product development. And if you can’t find the right product in the display cabinet, suggestion are always welcome, encourages entrepreneur Minna Lauri from Taukoherkut.
In December 2019, entrepreneur Minna Lauri made a bold decision. Sales at the her café and bakery were so good that additional seating was needed. The company, which was established in 2014, committed to expanding its premises. Then the corona pandemic struck in March.
– If I’d known what was coming, we wouldn’t have expanded, reflects Minna Lauri.
Construction of the café-bakery facility during the start-up phase was already a much bigger job than Lauri had expected.
– Without the regional business service and help from Tuomo Roivas, nothing would have come of the project. The paperwork and applying for investment grants was enough of a headache for anyone.
A personal approach
Minna Lauri has her own personal style when it comes to running the café and bakery. Service is more or less available around the clock. The efficient staff serves breakfast for hungry people, snacks for those rushing off to work a night shift, and also caters for larger events and celebrations.
– Locals, cottage dwellers and plenty of working people. All of these customer groups can expect to receive service just the way they want it. Both savoury and sweet options are available, and we also try to regularly introduce something new and different – even experimental – to the product selection Variation and innovation also helps keep a baker vibrant and motivated.
Focusing on ingredients
When developing the product range and offering new taste experiences, Taukoherkut favours the use of seasonal ingredients as well as locally produced food. Right now, Minna Lauri is excited about the barley groats supplied by Joonas Potkonen, a producer from Ilomantsi.
– Everything starts with a test batch. The aim is to produce something new that’s tasty and different – and show people that local organic barley has potential!
Summer 2020 has been challenging for this café-bakery entrepreneur. Corona also had a severe impact on the traditional Bear Festival. This event, which celebrated its 20th anniversary, has been a busy weekend in Ilomantsi for many years. The entrepreneur describes last summer’s event in one word – a fiasco.
Taukoherkut is currently preparing for the crucial Christmas season. However, this year Minna Lauri is wondering what impact corona will have on people’s Christmas eating habits. Even during uncertain times, Minna Lauri has the desire to be an entrepreneur and employ people. At this time, she has two employees. Lauri appreciates her staff and recognises the fact that it’s not always easy to find hard-working and skilled people in a small town.
– An entrepreneur has to be able to take care of their employees and protect them. That’s why I really hope that local customers and those who live further away will support small businesses and services in their region.
Taukoherkut will be offering new treats alongside the traditional ones for this year’s Christmas tables. As the festive season approaches, the baker has a tip about frozen ready-to-bake rice and potato pasties.
– We’ve developed our very own version – very successfully! What could be easier and more delicious than buying frozen pasties and baking them in your own oven. It’s also nice to enjoy the fragrance of baking at home.
An eternal optimist
Although the uncertainty caused by corona is concerning, Minna Lauri also sees something positive in this exceptional situation.
– Although corona has taken something from us, it has also led to many new things. When familiar operating methods no longer work, it’s time to develop new ones. That’s what we’re trying to do at Taukoherkut. Sometimes it just seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
In a 2017 interview with Karjalainen newspaper, Minna Lauri revealed that she’s worked in a lot of different professions during her life – apparently the only jobs she hasn’t tried yet are astronaut and member of parliament! Persistence and the ability to tolerate uncertainty are essential qualities for an entrepreneur. Those are skills that life has taught Lauri.
– I’ve worked in sales, the cleaning sector, a restaurant, a pizzeria and even in a laundry. I left my hometown of Kolari as a young woman and made my way down one side of Finland and up the other. I’ve seen a lot during that journey – and met all kinds of different people. It’s been a wonderful experience!
An entrepreneur has to be able to take care of their employees and protect them. That’s why I really hope that local customers and those who live further away will support small businesses and services in their region.
Text: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen/Viestintä Ässä Oy
Images: Jarno Artika