The Tommolansalmi summer restaurant, located in the Tommolansalmi resort area, has its roots in the 1970s. The favorites of that time, meat pies and muffins, are very different from the menu of today's restaurant: today Tommolansalmi is known for its local delicacies as well as home-made pastries. However, the history of the restaurant's owner family, the Pulkka family, with Finnish local food began more than half a century ago.
In late summer, the Pulkka family was in a hurry. The summer harvest from the fields and greenhouses, as well as the berries picked by the whole family from their own fields and nearby forests, had to be either sold as such or jammed for sale to the local shop and other residents of the area.
Before the fall, there was another big job ahead: collecting rowan berries. Eve and Merja would have preferred to go swimming in Lake Korpijärvi at times, but on the other hand it was interesting to watch as their father climbed high in the tree and dropped berries from the branches into the arms of the girls waiting downstairs.
It was even more exciting to think that from home the berries traveled to Lappeenranta to the Chymos factory, where many different products were made from them. Soon a delicacy made by Chymos could be found in the village shop, using the berries they had just picked.
The history of the owner family of the restaurant Tommolansalmi, the Pulkka family, as entrepreneurs in Mäntyharju began as early as the first half of the 20th century, two generations ago. The grandfather of the current owners, Eeva and Merja, was known locally for his sawmill business, and Eeva and Merja's parents, Aaro and Raili, had their own farm in the village of Halmeniemi. The farm grew e.g. strawberries as well as many domestic vegetables in the greenhouse. The farm's berries and vegetables were sold not only to nearby village shops, but also to local residents - and in good harvest years, berries were sold even in Lappeenranta Market Square.
As children of the entrepreneurial family, Eeva and Merja grew from an early age to entrepreneurship with Finnish local food ingredients. In their childhood years, the girls took part in farm work and berry picking, and as the family expanded their activities to include restaurants and kiosks, Eeva and Merja became increasingly responsible for the company.
1970s - small sausages, Finnish meat pies and Saturday dances
The municipality of Mäntyharju founded the campsite in Tommola area in the early 1970s. At first, there was only small cabins and a kiosk in the area. The kiosk was a famous meeting place for local residents. At the time, the most popular takeaway food was small sausages with a Finnish meat pie.
Tommolansalmi immediately gained popularity since the Tommola dance hall was built in 1968 near the campsite. As a natural continuation of the dancing in Tommola dance hall, people were staying the night in the campsite every Saturday.
The Pulkka family bought the campsite from the municipality of Mäntyharju in 1979. Aaro and Raili Pulkka (father and mother), served their own delicacies in the kiosk: Finnish meat pies and sausages as well as Raili's homemade pastries.
1980s - new restaurant and Raili's popular homemade pastries
Pulkka family built a new restaurant building near the kiosk. The new restaurant called "Tommolan baari" was opened in 1985. The restaurant was known for its tasty dishes and Raili's homemade bread and pastries, like buns, doughnuts and so on.
At the kiosk meat pies and grilled food were still popular, and daughters of Aaro and Raili, Eeva and Merja, worked at the kiosk serving food to campsite customers and passers-by every night.
1990s - grilled food and delicacies on the summer terrace
An ownership change in Tommolansalmi was carried out in 1992, when the siblings Eeva and Merja took the responsibility for the operations.
The kiosk building was rebuilt, and the kiosk became a summer café called Café Salmenlähde, and it also received an alcohol licence. It was a popular venue for campsite customers and residents nearby.
Kebabs and other popular barbecued dishes of the 1990s appeared on the menu. In addition to the traditional cakes and delicacies of Raili, sisters' own pastries appeared on the list.
The Tommolansalmi summer café was also a dining place when the separate restaurant in the area was closed down and food supply focused on the summer café.
2010s - local food and home baked goods
Raili's famous doughnuts and cakes are still on the menu today.
However, Eeva and Merja have added their own delicacies to the menu. They have followed food culture trends of each age: for example, sisters' own homemade gluten free and lactose free pastries are on the menu now.
The sisters also serve various stuffed sandwiches made from Finnish ingredients and delicious salads and meals made from local food.
The menu also includes for example many different healthy and vitamin-rich beverages and berry lemonades from the local farmers.
Today Tommolansalmi is still known for its hospitality and good customer service as well as for its famous doughnuts.
Nowadays another generation of camping-dwellers arrives to the café - adults who have spent their childhood at the campsite now bring their own children to Tommolansalmi.