Young and hungry restaurant owner
The coordinates of snow and nature

Young and hungry restaurant owner

Henrik Riipinen: Head of a family-owned business with five restaurants

Ruka-Kuusamo hosts a great number of family-owned small businesses. Many of them are known for making long-term development plans in a responsible way. In many cases the same family has been running the business for several generations. One of them Riipinen Restaurants with five restaurants at Ruka, run by Henrik Riipinen.

Pizzeria Ruka’s oven (nowadays wood-heated) has been baking pizzas for holiday makers at Ruka for over thirty years. Paavo Riipinen built this landmark at the base of Kelo slope area and his son Henrik has been more and less involved in the business since he was a kid. As an ambitious young man, Henrik headed for the School of Economics and later to university with intentions to do anything else but to follow the footsteps of his dad as a restaurant owner. However, on 2013 Henrik found himself working side by side with dad. Nowadays Riipinen restaurants is running Pizzeria Ruka, Kotipizza Ruka, two Subway restaurants as well as R U OK Burger at Ruka village. 

Three of these restaurants are franchised but they still have a distinctive Ruka-look. Not too many people are actually even aware of the fact that Subway – world’s largest fast food chain – is also a family-owned company.

The whole business model at Riipinen Restaurants is based on strong common values. Company is being developed with a long-term plan, keeping the cash flow solid and making long lasting investments. The focus is always in creating and enhancing a winning customer experience – in a sustainable way and taking the well-being of the staff into consideration. The staff of the restaurants has been well informed of the daily routines and operating models. When everyone is working for the same goal -  a happy, returning customer – it’s easy to give staff more responsibility and independence.   

– We want to be forerunners in developing sustainability and we have joined the Sustainable Travel Finland program. Employing local people with respect to the local culture, recycling, energy efficiency, following the laws and regulations as well as using local ingredients produced by local farmers with emphasis on sustainable production methods are our main principles, says Henrik Riipinen. 

How does a restaurant owner and a father of small children find enough hours to be truly present in both his roles?  

– I am trying to be available for problem solving for my staff. I represent our company, giving our guests and partners a familiar face. Sometimes I try to do something productive in the kitchen too, but mainly I try to be a leader who trusts his staff and gives them freedom to use their professional skills, says Henrik. – I am proud to say that I am able to be fully present both at work and at home thanks to two things: Our professional staff who can be trusted and who is given responsibility to run the job. And good planning of work and leisure time. Taking care of myself is vital for running the business in a sustainable way. If I was to become a burned out boss running here and there, things would fall apart. 

Summer 2019 was busy for Riipinen Restaurants. Winter has usually been the strongest season, and improving the year round business is one of the future aims. Besides serving the restaurants guests, summer and autumn are usually busy with development work, recruiting and getting ready for winter season.  

The impact of the image of the area is truly important for us. Summer 2019 was a season of growth for Kuusamo altogether. Many guests were happily surprised to find the large amount of good restaurants in the area. When a guest tells a good story about receiving delicious food and good service at Ruka-Kuusamo, it enhances the good image of the whole area, not just one particular restaurant.  

How about the future plans of Riipinen Restaurants – any new ideas or plans for new restaurants?  

– I am a young man with hunger for more, so I believe there will be more restaurants, says Henrik with laughter.   

Read more: www.ruka.fi/en/dining

Text: Salla Karhumaa Photos: Riipinen Restaurants  

This blog post is part of commercial co-operation with Riipinen Restaurants and Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association.