The tale of Fazer began when Karl Fazer opened his French-Russian café in Helsinki. Later, the restaurant business grew and Fazer operated restaurant services in four countries. In Finland, Fazer’s restaurants were best known by the Amica brand. Little known is that Fazer’s know-how in food services had its roots in the Finnish Lotta Svärd organisation’s provision work.

In 1944, the Support Foundation of Finnish Women that came after Lotta Svärd started an association called the Working Site Service. Its purpose was to organise catering at working sites to employ men released from military service. The former members of the Lotta Svärd organisation worked there. The women passed on their know-how to Fazer in the late 1970s when Fazer bought the Working Site Service’s business.

Restaurant operations gained further significance among Fazer’s business operations when Fazer Catering (later Fazer Food Services) was founded in 1976. Its field of operation was “managing personnel restaurants and preparing frozen food.” The first restaurant was opened in Helsinki in the Akava building. From the beginning, customer orientation and quality were enhanced in the operations. Few knew that a significant part of Fazer’s expertise in food services could be traced to the Finnish women who served as caterers during the war.

The Lotta Svärd organisation was established in 1921 as a sister organisation of the Finnish civil guard organisation. It was a support organisation based on women’s voluntary work to support national defence, and it also supported disadvantaged civils. During 1939-1944, these women volunteered to perform different national defence tasks. According to the stipulations of the truce agreement, the organisation was disbanded in 1944. Before that, its leaders created the Support Foundation of Finnish Women to aid and assist women and children who had suffered from the war. When the war was over, the State of Finland began to plan the reconstruction of Northern Finland. At the same time, the Support Foundation of Finnish Women cared for the livelihoods of women who had served in the Lotta Svärd organisation during the war.

In the autumn of 1944, an association called the Working Site Service was set up. It provided jobs to many of these women, organised catering at reconstruction sites, and later operated personnel restaurants in large companies. The association was incorporated in March 1945. The Helsinki Olympic Games were a showcase for the Working Site Service – they fed 75,000 people every day. In 1978, Fazer bought the Working Site Service, the forerunner in workplace catering. By the end of the 1970s, Fazer Catering employed over 700 people, of whom 600 were permanent employees. With the acquisition and, above all, the employees, a great competence capital was transferred to Fazer that had accrued ever since the Working Site Service association was created.

Over the years, Fazer Food Services offered delicious food and tailor-made service solutions. In Finland alone, Fazer served 130,000 meals a day. The services included private and public sector personnel restaurants, student restaurants, restaurants at conference and meeting venues, and food services for schools and public service organisations. In addition to lunch, Fazer Food Services provided solutions for every moment of the day to support well-being and provide varied, nutritionally balanced food to take away. Fazer Food Services also offered quality catering services for special occasions.

In 2019, Fazer sold Food Services to Compass Group. The heritage of the caterers during the war continues living on.