Others complain about the labor shortage, Mika and Pekka received more than 300 job applications – What happens to them now?

There is an entrepreneurial duo in Tampere who do not want their employees to work overtime.

When Mika Roito and Pekka Salmela told that they were opening a new restaurant in Tampere, they themselves were excited about their plans.

The labor shortage in the restaurant industry has been a harsh reality since the corona lockdowns of 2020. The entrepreneurial duo were worried about what would happen if they did not receive any job applications.

It was the other way around. There were more than 300 applications, and Ravinteli Haarla (you read that right: restaurant, not restaurant) opened its doors in the summer. The entrepreneurs of the Ponteva brothers can congratulate themselves, because the flood of applications was no accident, even if they didn’t dare hope for it themselves.

Haarla is Veljekset Ponteva’s third restaurant. Eeva Paljakka

– Unbelievable success, not even in the wildest imagination could you dream of such a number of applicants, the entrepreneurs state.

Even if they are already blushing to think about it, let alone say it out loud, there is nothing to be gained from it: Brothers Ponteva has a good reputation as an employer.

Where does it come from? Entrepreneurs believe that the key to happiness is to care about employees. Employer reputation only comes through the staff, marketing cannot influence that.

– We want the employees to be well and able to be in a good mood at the workplace. We understand that this is a tough one. We want our employees to get more than a salary from work. They have the opportunity to develop. We help move forward, Roito says.

Ravinteli Huber’s dry aged cabinet has, among other things, the back of a dairy cow. Sampo Pystynen

Salmela continues that you can’t get the best out of a person if you yell at them. When an employee feels good and is trusted, he usually gives all his skills.

– Our goal is that no one works overtime. Our employees go to work during normal working hours and leave. That’s enough, nothing more is required. We don’t want to squeeze 10-15 hours more than normal working time out of people per week. Then we have failed in terms of the number of employees.

The cornerstones of Ravinteli Haarla’s interior are handmade chairs, leather and wood. We wanted a warm homely atmosphere, nothing too modern. Eeva Paljakka

In the past, the thing about the restaurant’s kitchen was precisely that we were working overtime for a long time. Roito and Salmela reflected that the change started ten, five years ago.

For example, the three-Michelin-star restaurant Franzén in Stockholm has three teams that run the restaurant. Even at the top of the restaurant world, the importance of staff coping is understood. When everyone has suitable workloads, the atmosphere remains good.

Roito and Salmela met in the restaurant’s kitchen. How else. Gradually, it became clear that both had the desire to start their own restaurant and that the men’s plans were similar.

“We wouldn’t have anything without really good staff. Nothing can be done together”, say the entrepreneurs of Veljekset Ponteva. In the photo, Huber’s staff. Sampo Pystynen

In 2009, they started mapping possible locations, in 2010 one was found.

At that time, they heard from almost everyone that nothing would come of it, “somewhere it’s going to catch up”. No one believed in the equally strong leadership of two entrepreneurs.

Roito and Salmela state that they have different strengths and views, as well as a 12-year age difference. It gives the company more than two plus two.

The rules of the game are clear.

– If something bothers you even a little bit, it’s talked about right away. Small things easily become big, says Salmela.

During the Corona period, Veljekset Ponteva’s restaurants changed their opening hours from Wednesday to Saturday. Thanks to it, the staff gets regular holidays. View from Bertha’s kitchen to the hall. Sampo Pystynen

Although the men work together every day and talk to each other on the phone for about 10 hours a week (both of them want the other to have all the information), they don’t spend their free time together, and they don’t know about each other’s activities.

Often, one of them has to answer questions about what their business partner is doing. Where is Pekka, where is Mika, the answer to the question is: “I don’t know, probably at home, it also has its own life.”

But both are of the opinion that they would not be here, as entrepreneurs of three restaurants, if they had founded the restaurant alone. You get resources from the other.

– Both have the right to have a say in every matter, but also the strength and courage to decide. Another swears to believe when he feels that things will not work out. It is a great strength to be a fellow entrepreneur. This hasn’t even felt like work, because here you can fulfill your own passion, Roito laughs.

Horse tenderloin is cooked in the flames of Huber’s grill. Sampo Pystynen

Gradually, the entrepreneurs have also realized that they cannot be in all their restaurants all the time. They have staff to handle.

– We’ve learned that it’s not easy for anyone else to take over the kitchen if we’re next to you all the time. When we give space, successes come, Salmela says.

The restaurateurs, who opened their third restaurant a little over half a year ago, state that they want to do different things, so there must be more restaurants. All ideas cannot be under the same roof, then the business idea is no longer sharp.

– We only have places we would like to visit ourselves.

Chef Mira Väätäinen cooks in Haarla’s kitchen. Eeva Paljakka

Ravinteli Huber offers dry aged meat. According to Roito, there is always summer and the smell of barbecue. Bertha, on the other hand, is small and clever, it has been possible to try different things there on a smaller scale.

The newest Ravinteli Haarla has clear portions and an a la carte menu.

– There is nothing else like this in Tampere. We don’t compartmentalize anything. Haarla has local food, French, Italian, Asian, nothing is excluded. The dishes are united by the fact that they are damn good.

Haarla’s chef Kalle Laakso. Eeva Paljakka

Haarla’s red thread is good food in its simplicity. It opened last summer in the center of Tampere, in the long-vacant Haarla house, which is a detached house in the middle of the city. The restaurant’s main entrance is a former garage.

The opening of Haarla was delayed a bit, because Roito and Salmela wanted to have a completely ready restaurant at the opening.

– The story starts if the restaurant is opened unfinished. If something is wrong, I don’t understand the explanation that a restaurant has just opened. If a new car rattles a bit or a theater show is unfinished, no one thinks it’s okay. However, customers pay the same price. If the restaurant experience is bad, it may be a long time before the next restaurant visit, entrepreneurs think.

According to Roito and Salmela, Tampere is inwardly warm in a good way. There, restaurateurs know each other and support each other.

Mika Roito and Pekka Salmela state at Haarla’s bar counter that the center of Tampere’s focus has shifted closer to Ratina and the Nokia Arena. Eeva Paljakka

Salmela gives an example. They have a group of people who, looking at the menu, realize that they would have liked to eat a little different kind of food. The waiter may notice signs of dissatisfaction and ask if the party wants to change seats. Then we help the customers and call another restaurant and make a reservation there.

– It is not out of our hands. We get a satisfied customer. We think there are enough customers for everyone. There has to be the right restaurant for the right situation. If we get people to eat more in restaurants, it benefits us all.

Haarla’s entrance is a former garage doorway. Eeva Paljakka

From the moment the customer has chosen a restaurant, entered there, ordered, eaten, paid the bill and left, there are many steps where things can go wrong. The toilet may be untidy, you may have to wait for food or the bill, the waiter does not take the customer into account enough.

But even if something fails, the evening can still be great. It requires an eye for the game and professionalism from the staff. If something goes wrong, it’s fixed right away.

– This is a detail business.