Colorado. Unioninkatu 30. The first south-west restaurant in Helsinki was founded by Unioninkadun Keidas Ltd. The owners were Markus Selin, Jari Komulainen, Sakke Järvenpää and Mato Valtonen. These days SEB, a Scandinavian financing company, operates in the premises.
The history of Solar can’t be told without mentioning the corner table of the late Restaurant Colorado – the table number 24. As a concept, it is almost as infamous as “Area 51” – and almost as famous as a certain ex-ice-hockey-player, known as “Number 99”.
Someone not familar with the legacy might ask, what was so special about one table? Well, quite honestly; nothing as such. But if the table in question would still be among us, it might be able to tell us a story or two. At least it would be well marinated; the estimated value of all the drinks spilled on the table must equal the price of a nice flat in downtown Helsinki. The table itself was not particularly large – but still, the whole Ice Hockey Championship Team of 1995 managed to squeeze around it just fine.
There was always someone from Solar Films sitting at that table – or at least, someone from the very inner circles or from the various interest groups. As long as the restaurant was open. And sometimes, a bit longer. We held our production meetings there. Followed the audience numbers of the opening weekends, with great excitement. Watched TV. Laughed. Cried. Argued. Made the arguments up. Ate our meals. Drank our refreshing concoctions. Went down the memory lane. Planned the future. Took sides. And took whatever it was we needed to take.
It was at that very table where Jere Karalahti (a hockey pro) ordered a nice, round figure of drinks: one thousand hot shots.
Table 24 had laws and rules of its own. If you left your cell phone on the table while you excused yourself, you had a great chance of finding it nailed to the wall when you returned. Or – if you were lucky – Iiro Seppänen (at the time a world class magician) had diversed your calls to a restaurant favored by sexual minorities – or changed the menu language to Turkish or Croatian. If some ill-advised, unlucky gentleman happened to sit down wearing a tie, the garment was always cut off with festive gestures, regardless of the social status of the owner. The ties were ceremoniously nailed to the same wall, next to the phones.
The pressures of the game were definitely too much for the production designer of “The Jackal” – he was medevaced to a hospital in an ambulance.
Table 24 saw and heard strange things. Silu Seppälä (the bass player of Leningrad Cowboys) sat there often. Sometimes Silu rejuvenated himself by sleeping under the table – it was commonly agreed that he was not to be disturbed. For some unknown reason Andy McCoy (of the Hanoi Rocks fame) flashed his crown jewels there, it was at that very table where Jere Karalahti (a hockey pro) ordered a nice, round figure of drinks: one thousand hot shots. And at that table a gentleman and a regular customer, who nowadays manages a fancy bowling alley, told Dominik Hasek (a two-times Stanley Cup winner and a six-times Vezina Trophy winner), what ice hockey really is all about…
Table 24 was the venue of nationwide slap-the-hand tournaments (a lethally dangerous drinking game). Markus must be the unofficial world champion of that notorious sport. The pressures of the game were definitely too much for the production designer of “The Jackal” – he was medevaced to a hospital in an ambulance.
Timo Kahilainen from the comedy group “Kummeli” placed himself to a baby chair. To set him free required the skilled hands of Markus and his Leatherman.
Colorado often supplied the catering for Solar Films productions. Way too often, one could say. Chicken Burritos became very unpopular among the crews, after the first week of shooting.
And the wrap parties! One event worth mentioning was held on the last shooting day of “Peltiheikit” – the first drama series produced by Solar Films. The staff of the restaurant later awarded Solar with a diploma, carrying the words: “The Ultimate Low of All Times”. And that was only the beginning. At the wrap party of “Goldrush” Timo Kahilainen from the comedy group “Kummeli” placed himself to a baby chair. To set him free required the skilled hands of Markus and his Leatherman (whoever gave that multitool to him – make no mistake, a blunder of epic proportions).
But there were times when the table saw some serious work. Screenplays were written, budgets were drafted. Production plans, memos and agreements were scribbled – if not quite to cigarette cases but at least to napkins. That was the starting point of all shoots and all foreign travel, and also, the finishing line. Always.
Table 24 doesn’t exist anymore. Sic transit gloria mundi.
Nothing is left – but the memories. Let’s hope that when it’s time to celebrate the next decade of Solar Films, a replacement has been found. The search is on.
AND THAT’S NOT ALL OF IT
One more memory of Colorado – thinking about it still makes me nauseous, after all these years. I can’t remember the reason for the occasion – but we had invited a lot of people – and there was even some improvised entertainment.
One person at a time was escorted to the backyard, blindfolded. Iiro Seppänen was waiting for the victim, asking the blind person to put out the forefinger of the right hand. Iiro grabbed the wrist and guided the finger deep, into something very slippery…
Oh my God! This is not very courteous, not correct, not to anyone involved!
The blindhold was removed and Iiro pulled up his pants. I was allowed to stick around, to see the next patient’s reaction. She happened to be my wife, Ritu.
Iiro performed the very same rituals, took the finger and guided it inside his extremely well lubricated – armpit!
PS: One joke too many. Emptying a very full ashtray to Peter Franzén’s backpack was something that we shouldn’t have done.