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Beloved Helsinki Coffee Shop Gets Familiar Faces as New Owners

When a local cafe closed, a group of neighbors banded together to open a new one. The community ownership effort is now 40-strong and includes the mayor.

Mariankatu 18 is owned by 40 Helsinki residents.

Mariankatu 18 is owned by 40 Helsinki residents.

Photographer: Juuso Westerlund for Bloomberg Businessweek

Anton & Anton Oy’s shop in Kruununhaka was a fixture of the central district of Helsinki for a decade, drawing customers with its communality and exceptional food. So when the grocery store and cafe chain’s Kruununhaka location fell victim to declining foot traffic during the pandemic and closed its doors in April 2021, locals banded together to establish another coffee shop in its place.

Concerned about their neighborhood’s dwindling mom and pop sensibility and yearning to foster community spirit, 25 patrons of the former establishment formed the company Kruununhaan Korttelikahvila Oy. (Korttelikahvila means “cafe of the block” in Finnish.) They each chipped in €2,500 to €10,000 ($2,700 to $10,700), renovated the space, and opened the cafe under the name Mariankatu 18 in August.