Finland’s Best Lunch 2023 winner Star Lunch is known for its buffet
Star Lunch from Vantaa, which has achieved impressive visitor popularity, was crowned the winner of 2023's Best Lunch competition. Edenred's survey on lunch habits in autumn 2023 showed that up to 70% of Finns prefer a buffet lunch. The success of the lunch buffet was also proven by the victory of Star Lunch, as the restaurant is known specifically for a variety of vegetarian dishes, fresh ingredients and an extensive lunch buffet. See the full competition results here.
Star Lunch succesfully received the largest number of votes in Edenred’s competition, where a record breaking 76,419 food lovers from across Finland voted for their favorite lunch place. Star Lunch, which gained fame on TikTok, was already known by many before the competition, yet its fame has grown even more after the victory. The restaurant's TikTok account, which has become a real social media phenomenon, has almost 30,000 followers and hundreds of thousands of likes on the videos (27.10.2023).
After the win, busloads from outside the capital region have visited Star Lunch in Vantaa. The popularity can be seen in the restaurant, as the tables are filled with customers throughout the lunch hour every day. Office workers and laborers in the nearby area were already familiar with the restaurant before the competition, but after the win, more and more families have heard about the restaurant. Authentic cooking, familiar faces in the restaurant, fresh ingredients and an abundant lunch menu attract visitors from further afield.
The competition was won by a traditional lunch restaurant, where the restaurateur seeks inspiration from his travels across the world
Star Lunch, formerly called Mama Mozza, is a traditional lunch restaurant that offers a buffet lunch inspired by the food cultures of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. There is a wide selection of salads, various vegetable and meat dishes and side dishes. In addition, the restaurant offers pizzas and a dessert that changes daily. Although the selection is wide, the quality is not compromised. The dishes found in the lunch buffet are made from start to finish by the restaurant workers. Kerem Bölük, who has been Star Lunch's restaurateur for 13 years, likes developing the lunch buffet and trying new dishes. He is always looking for new inspiration while traveling in different countries and creating new dishes to the buffet for customers to try.
The secret to success is good food, teamwork and active content creation
Active content creation on social media increased the awareness of the restaurant, which helped more and more customers find the restaurant and thus grew Star Lunch's popularity. The presentation of the daily lunch buffet and Kerem's familiar face quickly made Star Lunch a social media phenomenon. When the Finland’s Best Lunch 2023 competition started, Star Lunch was already familiar to many.
"The victory feels absolutely wonderful. The dream has come true", describes restaurateur Kerem Bölük his feelings after the victory.
However, the victory in the competition did not come solely because of the active content creation. A strong belief in one's own work day after day, working together as a team, taking customers' personal wishes into account and following the slogan "An even better lunch every day" were key to achieving victory.
"This has been teamwork from start to finish – it includes both the floor and kitchen staff, as well as marketing," says Kerem.
The homemade kebab makes people come to the restaurant from further
Although the lunch buffet varies daily, it also includes customer favorites like baklava, pancakes and grilled fennel regurarly. The homemade kebab offered on Fridays attracts regulars again and again. Star Lunch sees fresh food and love for cooking as an important factor in their success.
"It is done with love. It has an effect, it creates a good buffet", says Kerem Bölük.
Star Lunch wants to take into account customers' wishes and different allergies as comprehensively as possible. For this reason, they listen to special requests coming from their customers. The kitchen is happy to make food suitable for everyone. For example, gluten-free pizza is available upon request, and there is no extra charge for this. The buffet also always offers vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free options.
Sustainability is taken into account every day
Although it’s evident that with a lunch buffet concept there will always be waste, Star Lunch has tried to minimize it with various means. If the dessert of the day runs out during the last opening hour, the restaurant will not make more of it in order to minimize food waste. In addition to the dessert that changes daily, customers are always offered ice cream. The leftover buffet food is taken home by the restaurant staff or donated to charity.
Fresh vegetables in the lunch buffet are one of the cornerstones of Star Lunch's lunch buffet. Vegetarian food is always available at lunch, as the buffet consists of various cold and warm fresh vegetarian dishes. The list includes known vegetarian side dishes, but also some more exotic ones: okra, stuffed peppers, garden beans, beetroot and vegetable patties.
Catering available upon request
Developing the catering service has been in the restaurant's future plans. The service can now be ordered for private events by both companies and individuals. Star Lunch's catering service has an oriental focus with vegetables, halloumi, baba ganoush and meat skewers. According to restaurateur Kerem, the idea would be to expand the catering menu selection to offer both traditional and more special menu items in the future.
Edenred interviewed Star Lunch's restaurateur Kerem Bölük for this blog post on 26.9.2023.
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