A smiling customer is Tuula Tikkanen’s asset.
– Tuula honey, you are ten years ahead of your time, Tuula Tikkanen heard when he added piccolo-sized bottles of sparkling wine to his cafe’s selection in the early 2000s.
At most, it took ten years before wine started to be an everyday thing and “it was bad to drink wine in the middle of the day”.
At that point, Tikkanen had already taken another bold step and founded a champagne bar in Tampere. Champagne bar Santé, which turned 10 years old this year, is still a rarity. Helsinki only got its own last week, when Minne opened its doors.
– My intention was to start a wine bar, but I was hooked on champagne. Besides, no one else had one. I have always had bold things, says Tikkanen, who has been an entrepreneur for 30 years.
When Santé opened its doors 10 years ago, its popularity was huge.
– The beginning was amazing, the champagne cabinet was quickly emptied, we only had one bottle of Ruinart in hand, Tikkanen recalls.
In ten years, Santé has gained a solid foothold in Tampere. Work has been done for that. According to Tikkanen, you always have to be on time and listen to what the customers want. An entrepreneur must have creativity and ideas.
Over the years, Santé’s champagne selection has grown, the bar offers light snacks, and wine schools and tastings have been added.
But the road has not been easy. Tikkanen states that it has even been rocky at times. Most recently, Corona and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, as well as increased interest rates and the price of electricity.
– But I trust our customers. Miraculously, we survived the corona with minimal damage. You can’t stay in a small bar waiting for the door to open and customers to come. All the time, you have to give the customers what they want.
This coming weekend, Tikkanen will organize a champagne and wine fair. That’s what the customers have been hoping for.
Sen Tikkanen has noticed that there is no better reason to enjoy a glass of champagne than Thursday. Or the last day of vacation. Or a theater night. Or as an aperitif.
Tikkasen always has several different bottles open, from which he sells bubbly by the glass. There are big and small wineries, rosette, vintage, Blanc de blancs, and there is even one sparkling wine among them.
– A little bit of everything for everyone. If a customer complains that you don’t have this and that bottle open, we often open it, says Tikkanen.
The exception, however, is the 300-400 euro bottles.
Rosé champagne is by far the most popular.
– It’s sold in an incredible amount. The rosé champagnes are in their own cool cabinet and the others in theirs. Dry rosé is just so good, says Tikkanen.
But at the same time, he reminds that work has also been done for popularity. There have been prejudices against Rose, because it might have been considered a sweet drink for girls.
Even if the customer is asked what kind of champagne he wants to drink or the taste of each drink is described to him, Tikkanen considers it important that champagne does not always have to be analyzed. Just enjoy.
Own imports, selection of wineries, fairs and paperwork keep the entrepreneur busy, but despite that, he is also behind the counter at Santé.
– Fortunately, I got help in starting Santé From Heidi Mäkis, but nowadays everything is my responsibility. I would fall off the wagon quickly if I didn’t taste wines and listen to customers.
Tikkanen is proud that they have 30-50 regular consumers as wine school season ticket holders. In addition, Wine server agademy, trainer and partner of Santé’s wine school, has received the rights to the WSET qualification (Wine & Spirit Education Trust). It is a worldwide training for professionals.
– Now we also get restaurant training here. You don’t always have to go to Helsinki.
Tikkanen wants the restaurant culture of Tampere and Finland to remain good. It needs competent staff.
– We need experts in food restaurants, wine bars, hotels. This field is interesting and many do their work with heart. Then you have to have attitude and motivation.
A smiling customer makes Tikkanen cope. The customer’s joy also brings him joy.
Another thing that helps and keeps your head together is exercise. Tikkanen loves golfing, skiing, swimming, anything where you can challenge yourself. When he was younger, he competed seriously on running tracks.
Even if he didn’t get to sleep until two in the morning, Tikkanen wakes up in the morning feeling cheerful – and goes to play sports.
Limits are tested in sports, as well as being an entrepreneur.