While I stayed at an Airbnb in Helsinki, I was impressed by the interior and overall experience of the stay. I became interested to know the man behind this heart-warming flat for travelers away from home, so I contacted its owner Joe.
Woolshed is the place we were meeting, it is a bar & restaurant with a warm name owned by Joe, who is originally from Australia and currently living in Helsinki.
The place is in the city center, right next to Helsinki railway station. When we went in, this sheep shearing-themed space instantly warmed us up with its wooden constructs and thoughtful decors on the walls. Joe was waving to us, with a casual street outfit.
What’s good Joe?
When did you wake up this morning?
I get up at 7:30 am everyday.
That’s very early, when do you go to bed?
Seems you have a very regular routine, how do usually you start you morning?
So I wake up at 7:30 am, then I walk my dog, grab breakfast from the cafe, and start to work in front of my computer at 8:30 am.
What’s the name of your dog?
Scruffy, like you guys! [Laughters]
And what did you have for breakfast today?
Two chocolate croissants and one latte.
What type of car do you own?
Did you give him a name too?
It’s “her”. [Laughters] But she doesn’t have a nickname.
Do you come to your restaurant by car, or public transportation?
I live very close, so I just walk to my restaurant.
How long have you lived in Finland?
I moved to Finland in 2012, now it’s the 7th year.
Before Finland have you lived in other countries than Australia?
I was living in London before moving to Finland. After living in Helsinki for 2 years, I opened this restaurant with some friends. This one in Helsinki was opened on 1st of April, 2014. And we opened another one in Turku in 2016.
How did you come up with the name Woolshed?
Wool shearing is a typical industry in Australia, and it reminds people of warmth, so we decided to follow this theme and founded Woolshed. Although the name has an Australian taste, we provide a strong international ambience, just like Australia itself as an immigrant country. People from different countries love to gather here and enjoy this English-speaking atmosphere. The restaurant was so popular during the world cup, it makes your proud of seeing people enjoy the time in your place.
Probably that’s because you have good beers? Did you make the beer selections yourself?
Yes, we analyzed the trend in beer market and directly import them from the breweries. I studied business administration and had importing related experience, so we could source and import the beer and beef directly from the foreign suppliers. We have beer from central Europe, beef from Ireland and Scotland, lobsters from Atlantic. So I’m confident to say our materials are very competitive in quality and price, our two restaurants sold 40,000 burgers in a year.
Amazing achievement! Apart from your work, what is the most amazing thing for you to live in Finland?
Finland really welcomes foreigners, so I stay here. It makes you easy to get along with the life here. I have Philippine roots, so when I say I’m from Australia, the British may ask me “Where are you really from?”, but that never happens in Finland.
Is there anything in Finland hard for you to accept?
Everything is easy except taxes. [Supposed to have laughters here]
How about sauna, have you tried the naked sauna?
Yes, I really love sauna. I went to naked sauna with my friends. The nudity will be embarrassing in Australia, but everyone here takes it normally and I accepted it very easily.
From earlier conversations I felt you often go to gym. Will you be strict with the food you eat?
I go to gym about three times a week, I work out to relax myself instead of building muscles, so I still eat a lot of meat.
It sounds you really love food, is there a type of dish you won’t try?
I’m such a foodie that I want to try almost all kinds of food, but I won’t eat insects, the ones that are very popular in southern Asia.
But how I knew you was because I booked your Airbnb, and I really liked your home decors, as well as the details such as built-in fridge, a glass of stones as decoration in the bathroom. I liked these tiny things one devotes to his life. How did you pick up this habits?
When I set up my Airbnb, I intended to make it Scandinavian. Because a lot of tourists expect places like this, also it’s a nice and clean style that everyone likes. So I visit decor shops to choose furnitures with Nordic design, and my girlfriend is a Finn, she helps a lot too. My goal is to own 10 Airbnbs and then I’m done!
At the end of interview, which local place will you recommend people to visit in Helsinki?
Löyly. It is a miniature of Finland and its lifestyle. You can enjoy the view of ocean, and experience the authentic Finnish sauna. The architecture itself is also a good representative of Nordic design.
After the conversation, Joe showed us how their hand press burgers are made.
And he added: “I learnt supply chain in the university, I ordered the beef directly from suppliers in Ireland and Scotland, as well as the lobsters, beer, bread in this restaurant were directly from suppliers instead of distributors. So that I can provide better quality of food materials with the same budget.”
We couldn’t hold the appetite anymore and ordered two burgers.
Yes, the taste was stunning, it even inspired us to make an editorial about burgers, about this magic meaty food.
More about Joe’s restaurants:
Töölönlahdenkatu 3B 1
044 7604 086
Yliopistonkatu 29 B
040 5936 046
And his Airbnb flats: