The History of Kairo    Historia suomeksi

The story of Kairo began in 1879. That year, Nikolai Fredricksen established the finest restaurant in Kotka, replacing a café located in the street corner of Kauppakatu and Satamakatu. Only the name Universal Garden was fine enough for this glamorous restaurant (do note the international tone already at that time). Music was often taken care of by a whole orchestra, and at times a fiery Hungarian made both his violin and the ladies cry.

In the wintertime outside the restaurant was made an ice-skating ring. At the side one could enjoy glogg or hot consommé while taking a break from rousette skating. In 1883 Fredricksen died and the owner of the restaurant changed. Universal Garden was taken over by a harbour captain called Enok Blomberg, who at times also rented the restaurant to others. The quality of the restaurant maintained high, as when looking for renters Blomberg put advertisements in the papers even abroad in Stockholm. These advertisements stated that poor parties should not bother to reply.

One of the renters, Mrs. E. Wiborg was exceptionally good at persuading the public. She owed this success to her beautiful daughter. As the restaurant offered both food and eye candy, it was night after night full of love-ridden young men and other admirers of the daughter’s beauty.
In the turn of the century the Salvation Army moved into the building, and their headquarters was located there until 1906. In 1907 the Universal Garden was reopened, but it did not delight the seamen more than Salvation Army as the restaurant was now one of sobriety.

The long dry season came to its end in 1932 when prohibition loosened its tight grip in Finland. In the address Kirkkokatu 10 was now opened low-priced restaurant Kairo owned by Ms. Anna Koskinen. Following year, liquor licences for serving were again reduced and the seamen had to settle for sipping wine.

Miss Anna did not hesitate but started to defend her customers by applying for more extensive serving licences in less than a month. She justified her plea as follows: “Serving hard liquors is necessary for entertainment of seamen. They are not content with wines only, because they are used to enjoy hard drinks such as highball both abroad and onboard. Unlike other customers, seamen are unwilling to dine elsewhere but onboard as they have low wages.” Facing these heavy arguments the Finnish authorities had to yield and Kairo got its licenses.

In 1935 Kairo moved to its current location in Satamakatu 7. In the 70´s the owner of the restaurant changed six times altogether, until it ended up being owned by Kantaravintolat Oy in 1977. In 1991 Kairo was passed on to its current owner Crestamar Oy, which has together with the City of Kotka invested in extending the building. The extension was finished in December 2002. The extension and development of the restaurant have boosted Kairo’s theatre and jazz shows and customized events. In May 2003 a new garden-like summer terrace was completed.

Live dance music still plays and Kairo remains the same good old restaurant it used to be.



Contact information, table reservations and orders
Ravintola Kairo
Satamakatu 7, 48100 Kotka