How come some restauranteurs have the golden touch while so very many others just don’t? Is there really a recipe for success? If so, then Sweden’s own Söderberg och Sara have it written down somewhere, pulling it out for every new culinary outpost they create. The first rule of S-o-S: Never repeat yourself.
Set to launch their newest venture, Hedvigsdal Pizza, opening in Malmö Saluhall, aka “Malmö Food Hall”, we had the opportunity to fika with Söderberg och Sara founders, Tilde and Per Söderberg, at their Saint Knut’s location, together with their business partner in this new location, Pär Extor. We discussed not only this most recent adventure but also their interests and values which beat at the centre of the their Venn diagram, overlapping the multi- culinary disciplines of baking, coffee roasting and pizza practition-ing.
The extent to which a business is run successfully is often a reflection of how successful the relationship is between those running it. Talking with Tilde and Per, who are life and business partners, it is clear to understand that they both take responsibility for all aspects of managing their four intermingling but independent businesses. To say they are hands-on would not be an understatement. Down to the laying of the tiles. Which they do. Or perhaps they didn’t, but it was a point of discussion during our conversation. I can’t remember which of the two thought they had the time to lay tiles in the midst of everything else on the to-do list of opening a new business, but they engaged in a practical argument on the topic. Whether they did or didn’t, the fact remains, they had the idea that they could do it. This is a common thread that runs through their story- having an idea and then getting down to business of making it happen without delay.
The Söderberg och Sara story begins with the opening of their bakery in Ystad in 2009 and reveals another of their success secrets- do one thing and do it the best way you know how to. In this case, they baked bread and people came to buy their bread. Tilde, who is a self described coffee nerd wanted to also offer espresso, but the tempo changes when you begin selling coffee to people who buy bread. Remarks Per “I like the conversations that happen when you’re selling bread. There’s a tempo to it. It changes though when you add coffee to the mix. People who come to buy bread don’t want to wait six minutes for someone’s coffee.” Without letting that be a deterrent, Tilde constructed a complete espresso rig. And wheeled it around downtown Ystad powered on a Christiania cargo bike.
While Per was the first baker in the family, Tilde picked the talent up as well, so they could better multi task, since they were a small operation. She had her own dreams to grow things and farm. So they bought cafe, installed a wood fire oven and began to roast their own coffee and make pizzas made from locally milled flour, done to their specifications, and topped with ingredients sourced from around the neighbourhood, comprising many fields and farms.
In the beginning of Kafferosteriet, this second venture (which is also the pizzeria), they actually received hate mail threatening to boycott their establishment. (That doesn’t sound very Swedish. Why?) “Because we made the pizzas our way. We’ve never even been to Italy. But with good tomatoes just round the corner, why should we try and duplicate Neapolitan pizza?” Threat mail be damned- not much sooner after they opened, the word spread of how effing delicious the pizza was and Tilde often found herself working behind the counter and breastfeeding at the same time. Offers Tilde, “The new place at the food hall will have a bigger oven and a smaller seating area. In the summer at Kafferosteriet we might make 450 pizzas a day in an oven that can only handle 6-8 at a time fully staffed.”
In a culture where restaurants are always vying to strengthen their position on strong branding and franchising, Per and Tilde walk a straight line in the opposite direction. Their only form of branding is the level of quality and value that runs through each of their start ups, along with the Söderberg och Sara name. The atmosphere in each is unique and could be described as minimal / quirky. Recycled school furniture in one, nothing on the walls in another. The aesthetics feel considered though and executed without putting on airs. There is meaning that gently permeates each of the interiours; one of humbleness, originality and genuineness. Often notable in what is not there as much as what is. What you do see of plenty is delicious baked things everywhere- deep baked browns and buttery golds.
In the last year they launched their third bakery in Malmö, in the St: Knut neighbourhood- with focus once again just on baked things. There is coffee available which customers pump out themselves on a side counter. And now, they are geared up to launch this newest outpost- Hedvigsdal Pizza, named in honour of the village in which Tilde, Per and their children reside. So, what else besides excellent tasting wood fire pizza will they offer their customers? Without a beat Per remarks, “Heavily fermented beverages.”
Make sure to drop by Hedvigsdal Pizza, opening 11 November. The menu will change according to seasonal availability, but make sure to try the mushroom pizza when it’s on the menu. It’s ‘kiss your fingers’ perfection in every locally sourced roasted mushroom bite. Molto Bene!
Location: Gibraltargatan 6, Malmö, Sweden