In Valga, on Vabaduse Street, right next to the city market there is a café Johanna, which is like a small French oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city of Valga.
In Valga, the market area has always been one of the most crowded places in the city and right next to the market in the historic building at Vabaduse 35, there is a café Johanna. "My goal was to make a real café in the city of Valga, not just a restaurant where french fries and burgers are sold, because earlier there was just one decent café in Valga," said Jana Kikkas, the hostess of the café. The idea for the café started in 2016, when the first day of home cafes took place in Valga. Jana also set up her home café with her friends and the emotion received from that day was so powerful that next year Jana participated again. There was also a guest book in their home café, where several entries pointed out that there should be such a café in Valga open for public. Jana, who had a medical education and had been in paid employment for 16 years by then, then felt that the time for life changes has arrived and that Valga is really worth a decent café. Cafe in a dignified house First she had to find the right place for the café, and finally her eye was caught by the house for sale in Vabaduse 35, where the café fits wonderfully. Next was a technical issue - Jana Kikkas left work, applied for support from the Unemployment Insurance Fund to start a business, wrote a business plan, bought equipment and the café was ready to host clients. Of course, not everything went so smoothly in reality, the house had to be tidied up and Jana is grateful to all her friends who helped how they could. There were also doubts whether it was a good idea to leave a profitable job and and jump into the unknown, but in the end everything was ready. Jana managed to find a young baker-confectioner Triinu and on August 7, 2018, the café opened its doors. "We set a vision: we only offer home-made delicious confectionery and bakery products, lunch soups, salads and snacks, and this has paid off, because we have very loyal customers who visit us every day," he said. The customers of Johanna's café are like a family who who helped to survive difficult times of COVID. Although the café did not close the doors, there were few visitors. This led to an increased take-away orders. In Hummuli there are even few old ladies -the fan club- who order the famous pastries of Johanna's café. However, when the crisis passed, customers even brought flowers to Jana and congratulated them on reopening the café. Latvians, who were the first to visit Johanna's café in Valga after opening the borders, are also among the regular customers in the café.
The café is famous for its Pavlova cake The café has not made its choice very large, but what is in the selection is famous all over the county. Various cakes and pastries, roll biscuits, wind pockets and eclairs and, of course, Pavlova cakes, for which customers have traveled from afar. "One rainy Saturday morning, a man was standing behind our door, who had come only to buy some Pavlova cakes," Jana recalled. But what is the secret of Johanna's café success? According to the hostess of the café, the formula for success is extremely simple - everything you do, do it with your heart, love your customers and use high-quality and healthy ingredients for baking. Everything else comes by itself. Therefore, it is not surprising that despite the fact that the café only advertises itself on Facebook, customers have quickly embraced the café. "When we were exceptionally open on Mother's Day, we had a queue behind the door in the morning and on Shrove Tuesday we sold almost a thousand buns," the hostess gave an example. Café Johanna has found recognition not only among customers. Last year, the Valga County Development Agency declared the café one of the best catering establishments in the county, and Tripadvisor has given the café a four-point rating. The story is written by Sander Silm. Photos by Elin-Saskia Silm