It takes more than elbow grease to discover and repair an old disused barn with huge square blocks of granite with broken windows, now floor and leaking roof.
It takes entrepreneurial spirit to rebuild it completely and turn it into a beautiful small restaurant where guests come from afar to enjoy coffee and homemade cakes, a full meal, or a wedding party!
Taivassalo is famous for its red granite that has been quarried from the side of high hills for centuries. Back in the old days men hacked at the solid granite to shape it into foundations of castles, manors and ordinary farm houses.
Exactly 100 years ago, Emmanuel Rantanen, the owner of the farm, decided to build this barn with red granite walls as thick as your arm! You can just imagine the amount of blood and sweat needed to cut each block and lift it, one on top of the other without cranes and other electric equipment.
This is what it looked like 10 years ago!
Ten years ago the new owners, Milla and Antti Lahdenperä decided to renovate the barn and turn it into a restaurant with apartments and a sauna just behind the barn for visiting guests.
The barn, when rebuilt is called “Pollin Piha” or “Polli’s Garden” in English and is in the middle of the countryside some 45 kilometres west of Turku. In other words you had to be a rather optimistic or a little nuts to spend many months of really hard work and plenty of cash to create something where there was just weeds in the middle of farm land almost one kilometre from the main road!
Your correspondent happened to drive past this place earlier in the day when helping family moving house to Taivassalo. We had arrived far too early at our destination in Järppilä from Helsinki and so we decided to have lunch at Pollin Piha which was the nearest restaurant some 20 kilometres away…
… and we were not disappointed, far from it. We were impressed what this young couple had achieved – a policeman, and a full time teacher can achieve unimaginable successes when they put their mind to it!
The food, service and atmosphere there in their summer restaurant is great and it is no wonder that people flock there during the short summer months. The rest of the year they are open for private parties and have lovely traditional style apartments for guest to stay overnight or longer!
Their diligence and enthusiasm for their project is contagious, and well worth a visit – they have even started to arrange cycle competitions in this beautiful part of Finland.