This classic restaurant located in Toolo has been the living room of Finnish artists for well over 80 years. The colourful circle of customers has naturally included many others as well – from the inhabitants of the neighbouring blocks to diplomats, from journalists to corporate heads.
The story of Elite begins all the way back in 1932. In 1938, the restaurant (at the time led by the legendary Ernst Mattas) moved to its present location, the new Reitz building where a street-level apartment was designed for the use of the restaurant. The work of Ernst Mattas was continued by his son Willy Mattas and Willy’s wife Mrs. Margaretha Mattas – all the way up until 1985 when new owners took over.
From the very beginning, Elite became a favourite of the artists. The list of regulars is long and fascinating. It includes, among many others, authors Mika and Satu Waltari, actors Sakari Halonen, Uuno Laakso and Aku Korhonen, painters Aimo Kanerva and Unto Koistinen, the cultural and political commentator Matti Kurjensaari, the great Tauno Palo, Kirsti Ortola, composers and musicians from Aarre Merikanto to Selim Palmgren, and scores of other influential figures in the field of Finnish art and culture. The nearby location of the artists’ home Lallukka was no doubt a key factor in making Elite the restaurant of the artists.
An inseparable part of the Elite is its largely unaltered milieu and the many famous paintings from the private collection of the Mattas family. Actor Tauno Palo’s own delicacy, the onion steak, has also been faithfully kept on the menu.
Today, the clients at Elite make up a more varied group, but its tradition as the artists’ restaurant still gives Elite its own unique and vibrant feel