Pannu Kakku

An example of Finnish style cusine, Pannu Kakku smothered in wild black berry jam. Most Finnish would pick this treat over a poptart any day.

A warm heart, unbreakable smile and butterflies in your stomach…I’m not talking about love. No, I’m talking about something far more powerful and caring, community restaurants. 

The feeling of going through a drive-thru and the worker knowing your order, so they say ‘Hi, Y/N.’

The feeling of getting a cup of coffee and the owner walking up to you, with their apron on, asking if you need anything else to sweeten up your day. 

The feeling of being able to sit anywhere cause every waiter and waitress knows just how you like your steak cooked on Saturday night. 

My first memory of a restaurant that touched the souls of their community was a place called Hoito in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. 

Thunder Bay became my second home after leaving Finland with my parents. I remember them going back to school at Lakehead University and every night my mom would make dinner, for two kids and five engineering students, with her business textbooks surrounding her small frame. 

But, once and a while, we would go out to Hoito and share a meal with other Finnish-Canadians, who spoke Finnish with the fluidity of a stream that my mom struggled with switching back to English for class the next day. 

The waitress would smile when they saw me with my parents and asked me if I’m getting my usual. I felt so special that they remembered my simple order of lettus (Finnish version of crepes) and bacon. 

As a little kid no other restaurant felt like home, so I thought this was a once of a kind of love. However, my naive heart did not look outwards and is now surprised by how much Abilene restaurants share the same motions. 

While waiting for my food, I’ve watched when owners and workers get a cup of coffee ready for the elderly man who just walked into the establishment. They know how many sugars and cream to put in the dark liquid to fit his taste buds. 

The gentleman would sit down in his seat that he finds open every morning. He would smile at the little kids that roamed around their mothers’ feet and wonder if they would be taking his seat in the future. 

Thank you to all the restaurants that create this atmosphere of home that we wonder who will inherit our well beloved wooden chair at the second table from the left. 


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