These sturdy log walls have witnessed many a lively Karelian conversation and given shelter to all manners of trade – from an old-fashioned general store to cars, iron nails and alcohol.

Jakob Filipoff commissioned the building work of the house and store at Torikatu number 10 in 1862 and ran a successful general store there for decades. Mr Filipoff, originally from Impilahti in Karelia and famous for his jolly and good-natured character, didn’t stand haggling over prices and was known to financially support the small Russian orthodox parish in Joensuu.

Times and trade were changing, however. After the prohibition was abolished in 1932, the first store to sell alcohol in Joensuu was opened in the house of Mr Filipoff. It has been said that on the day of the opening, around 200 people were eagerly queueing outside the store.

The last business occupant of the premises was a second-hand shop. Later along the years the buildings on the block sadly fell into disrepair and were even occupied by squatters for a brief period of time.

”We want to be a part of the revival of this neighbourhood, to bring joy and happiness and enjoy it together.”

– Tiia Tahvanainen

Footsteps are clattering against the floorboards again

Eventually the Joensuu-based real estate business Korttelinkulma came to the rescue of the buildings and saved them from being torn down. The renovation of the wooden buildings on the block started in 2016 and four years later the scaffolding has come down and revealed a carefully renovated, beautiful house of Filipof complete with large windows.

Every morning when Tiia Tahvanainen, the entrepreneur at Restaurant Filipof, steps into the bright and sunlit restaurant space, she feels that she is continuing the Filipof story, and it makes her feel good and grateful. Fresh ingredients are arriving from local producers, the staff members are smiling and saying good morning. Along the day a happy and lively murmur of conversation fills the rooms again, just like in the days of old Mr Filipoff.