HS Turku Legendary tavern milieu falls into oblivion in Turku – Danish chain restaurant opens

“Who the f… is Mary? ”

Ads with such text have been running along Turku for some time.

The answer to the question is Proud Mary.

It is a chain restaurant in Denmark and Norway. Finland’s first has come to the center of Turku, to the premises of the former Old Bank. Proud Mary is the Danish evening food giant Rekom Group, whose bars include Heidi’s Bier Bars.

Aurakatu Old Bank was a classic tavern from Turku. Not everyone was happy when, a few years ago, the “Bank” closed its doors and a British pub-inspired River Bank was opened in its place. One could guess that now if ever the reform comes to share opinions.

As the name implies, Old Bank was an old bank, and Turku Osakepankki operated on the premises until the 1990s. The tavern was known, for example, for its old bank vault.

HS Turku went to see what the new owner has done to the farms.

The old bank building is located in the center of Turku, at Aurakatu 3.

When enters through the door, is no longer in the familiar “Bank”.

“Before, you knew right away that this is an old bank,” says Rekom Group’s country manager for Finland Mikki Lahtinen.

Old elements such as safes and chandeliers have been taken into storage.

As this is a protected building, co-operation has been established with the Turku Museum Center during the renovation.

Investigator Noora Gherghel The Turku Museum Center says that the interior has changed much earlier, when the bank’s premises were converted into restaurant premises. With the renovation now underway, the space is even further away from the original look of the hall.

If the building has protection value, as the old Stock Bank has, all changes should be reversible.

“For example, make only the absolutely necessary attachments to the walls so as not to break down valuable surface decorations,” says Gherghel.

The roof, walls and columns have remained unchanged. At the center of the tavern was a bar counter, which was demolished during the renovation.

What then makes an old bank building valuable?

Gherghel says the greatest value indoors is in the magnificent staircase with its stained glass windows, but the whole building is exceptionally fine.

“It is provincially valuable in Southwest Finland,” says Gherghel.

He says the building was designed by an architect Frithiof Strandellwhich drew many of Turku’s most magnificent Art Nouveau buildings.

“It is quite unique here in the cityscape of Turku. When it is intended for banking use, it is strongly reflected in the design. Stained glass has been commissioned and valuable materials have been used, ”says Gherghel.

During the renovation, efforts have been made to ensure that the new solutions better protect the building. The original floor was previously visible, but now a new installation has been placed on it, which can be removed if necessary. The fire blade floor protects the original floor below.

According to Gherghel, the interior of the new restaurant has a radically different, more modern look. However, according to him, the changes are cosmetic and have been implemented on the terms of protected structures.

The stairwell of the building with its stained glass windows is especially valuable.

PALASIA however, the history of the building can still be found. The kitchen is located in the old board room, with sturdy safes serving as food and liquor storage.

Rugged columns and ornate walls and ceilings have remained the same. The walls might have been altered if they had.

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“If there had been any free hands, they would probably have been drawn with wallpaper or something similar in a slightly different color. We would probably have increased the number of decorations, ”says Mikki Lahtinen.

Now the ceiling is highlighted with LED lights that can be changed in color. Here and there, meandering artificial flowers and vines.

The refrigerator is behind a sturdy door.

In Opened in 1993, the Old Bank closed down a few years ago and was replaced in 2020 by the hybrid River Bank, a British pub and sports bar.

Certain things familiar from River Bank remain the same in Proud Mary.

“Sports are shown, food is on offer, basic pub elements are in place. What changes is the mood and the mood, especially towards the evening. In the early evening we operate as a traditional pub and in the evening we turn the lights a little dimmer and the music louder, ”says Lahtinen.

There will also be more of a program. Live music, DJ performances and pub quizzes. The service culture is also changing, as drinks will be served at the tables in the future.

The menu remains the same as at River Bank. For example, fish & chips, burgers, halloum french fries and other finger foods are available.

The restaurant’s murals have been made by a Scottish artist who also makes paintings for other Rekom Group restaurants. The artist wants to remain anonymous. Famous people often appear in paintings.

Main target group are between the ages of 25 and 40, and it is precisely adults who have no access to Proud Mary.

“We have an age limit of 23 this weekend,” says the Turku regional manager Topi Hietala Rekom Groupista.

The age limit per week is 20 years. On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the pub is open until 5 am. Student overalls on top of the bar can only come in special cases, such as a student event during the Little Fall Circle.

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In the past, there have been clearly older people among the customers. Nearly retired, restaurant manager Niko Järvinen says.

“Rejuvenation surgery does happen,” he notes.

Järvinen came to work in that building more than 20 years ago. So there is experience from both Old Bank and River Bank.

Restaurant Manager Niko Järvinen (left), Reki Group’s Turku Regional Manager Topi Hietala and Rekom Group’s Finnish Country Manager Mikki Lahtinen in front of Proud Mary.

Change may not be in everyone’s mind. Järvinen thinks that the customer base will change: some old customers will stay, some will not.

“Yes, for some, the change is such that they don’t like it,” he says.

Järvinen refers to customers who have come after the peaceful atmosphere of the tavern. He says the change will divide opinions in part because the place has been an institution.

Not everyone liked it either when Old Bank turned into River Bank. Maybe because the change wasn’t huge then.

“It was kind of easy to compare what it has been and what it is now,” Järvinen says.

It is good for Järvinen that the renovation has been extensive and the concept has changed completely. It may no longer be compared in the same way.

“A new place, a new concept,” he sums up.

“We start from that, this has nothing to do with that old one. What is gone is gone, ”Hietala adds.

Järvinen thinks that location may be more important to some than what bar is located on the premises.

“This location is so central that it’s more important than what the name is above that door.”

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