EGG rethinks fast food from farming to furniture
Finnish ’reggstaurant’ EGG doesn’t cut corners when it creates its seasonal, egg-based menus. Soon it’ll be testing its concept abroad, together with Finnish accommodation service Forenom.
Two years ago, after hitting the gym, Samuli Karjula searched for food with his friend in a Finnish shopping mall. As nothing else was open, they nipped into a multinational fast-food restaurant.
When they got their trays, Karjula couldn’t help but wonder why there’s a constant queue for food he deemed expensive and of poor quality. Whilst eating their not-so-appetising meals, the duo started thinking about ways to renew the existing fast-food culture.
“We thought about egg as an ingredient,” Karjula says. “Its carbon footprint is far smaller than that of pork and it’s easy to adjust according to the season. In traditional fast food restaurants, you get the same thing every time, regardless of the price and availability of the ingredients.”
Later Karjula, already having experience from a food-related startup, happened to come across Finnish chef Jouni Toivanen, who was looking for a restaurant space in Helsinki. Karjula got in touch and told the Michelin-starred cook that he had no insight as to locations, but instead, he had an idea.
Toivanen got on board, as did 11 other people in the end. They rethought the whole concept of a restaurant by dividing it into segments and finding the best possible people to take the lead of each of them, such as food, graphic design and human resources.
This team effort led to EGG: a restaurant where the food is fast, but made of high-quality, fresh and local ingredients.
“Eating fast food can make one feel a little guilty and dirty,” Karjula notes. “We wanted to show that it can be done much better, no guilt attached.”
“Not just for hippies”
EGG’s core lies in the ingredients. The dishes are always based on free range eggs, coming from a partner farm with very different conditions to those of industrialised egg production. Those seeking veggie options, can opt for vegan ‘egg’ made using EGG’s own recipe.
The fillings change every two months. EGG always goes for what’s at its freshest and most delicious there and then, and each product is well thought through.
“Sometimes people compare the price of the cheapest eggs in supermarkets to our lunches and wonder where the price tag comes from,” Karjula tells. “However, when you look at the ingredients, like smoked vendace or malt pork, they really are that valuable.
Karjula emphasises that EGG doesn’t want to be “a restaurant for hippies”. What they do want is to have everything so well thought through that the customers can enjoy their meals with zero worries in mind.
“We’ve thought about everything, so our customers don’t need to think at all.”
This doesn’t only apply to what’s on the plates; everything in the restaurant is designed to reflect the company’s values. Furniture comes from a Finnish protos|demos, lamps from Himmee and smoke alarms from Jalo Helsinki.
“Often things can be branded ‘Finnish’ or ‘Nordic’, but without consistency,” Karjula says. “We’ve taken every detail into account.”
Partnering up to go international
At the moment, the only ‘reggstaurant’ is located in the touristy area of Kanavaranta in central Helsinki. Next year there’ll be a branch in Jyväskylä, and even sooner there’ll be EGG-branded products available in Finnish supermarkets.
The first real step of EGG’s international conquest will be taken next year in Stockholm. EGG has teamed up with Finnish business accommodation service Forenom, and its Stockholm restaurant will be located within Forenom’s Aparthotels.
“Scouting for locations isn’t our core business,” Karjula explains. “This way, we never have to worry about premises, as that’s part of Forenom’s expertise, and we can focus on what we do best.”
There are plans to set up an EGG in Forenom’s Aparthotels in other Nordic capitals and cities, including in Finland. This brings customer flow to EGG and choice to Forenom’s guests.
The EGG team will make us of the concept in its other project, too. In August, it will open a wild food restaurant in Helsinki in conjunction with design store TRE. The duo also plans to travel abroad together.
“I’m sure the concept would work on its own, too,” Karjula says. “We just think it makes the most sense to look for collaborators.”
In general, Karjula encourages all entrepreneurs to forget about traditional borders between fields of business.
“Putting two things together is a win-win for both. Why does an opera house need to have a terrible restaurant, when there could be an excellent one – and that would introduce opera fans to food and food lovers to opera?”
Text: Anne Salomäki