In 1963, a restaurant was a rare sight in Jyväskylä when Sirkka Parviainen founded a café-restaurant in the city. She wanted to start a place where the customer could listen to live jazz while enjoying a lovingly cooked dinner.
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Kissanviikset has been located in the same address since the beginning. The restaurant quickly became a favourite for both local people as well as for tourists. During the annual Jyväskylän Kesä Festival, intellectuals and jazz aficionados would take the restaurant over - the atmosphere during those days was laid-back. For people tarvelling to Lapland, Kissanviikset was a popular choice to stop for a meal, since during the 1960's the now closed highway 4 ran through Jyväskylä and past the restaurant. During the 1000 Lakes Rally the restaurant would have needed double the number of available tables in order to serve all the people wishing to dine in the restaurant.
After the initial success, Parviainen found two other restaurants to Jyväskylä besides Kissanviikset (Cat’s Whiskers): Topikatti (Top Cat) and Katinhäntä (Cat’s Tail). Parviainen also started two Café-bakeries, called Mummin Pullapuodit (Grandma’s Pastrystore) that baked fresh bread and pastries also to the restaurants. Topikatti and Katinhäntä have disappered into history years ago, but Kissanviikset is still known especially for its Plank Steak and freshly baked bread. According to Sirkka Parviainen’s philosophy, a restaurant has to have personality and character – mediocrity was unnacceptable. The decor and the menus of the restaurant were influenced by Sirkka’s travels around the world and by the books and magazines she would constantly be reading. Cats has been a fun and light theme to build around the milieu of the restaurant.
Sirkka Parviainen sold the company that managed the three restaurants and the bakeries in the end of the 1980s. The change from maternal and caring atmosphere to a more calculated way of doing business didn’t go down well with the customers. The change combined with the severe economic recession of the beginning of the 1990s brought the restaurant to the brink of running out of business. Former employees of the restaurant wanted to bring back the old atmosphere and mentality of the restaurant, and took over in 1993. Bringing back the “good old times” wasn’t easy, but for the current restaurateurs it has been of utmost importance to preserve and develop further the original idea and feeling of the restaurant that Sirkka Parviainen started.
Jazz hasn't been playing in Kissanviikset for decades, but for over 50 years the restaurant has been serving delicious meals in a relaxed atmosphere. Many of the younger families that come to dine to the restaurant reminisce of the times the used to come to Kissanviikset for a Sunday lunch with their parents. Times change - good food remains!
Times change - good food stays.