“I have dreamed of having a café as long as I can remember,” says Sandra. In February 2020, she opened Lille Havfruen Kafé (the Little Mermaid Café) in the fjordside village of Hemnesberget.
She has a notable advantage: people were used to visiting Sans, her café’s predecessor in this venue.
“I have done my best to preserve its good ambience while adding something of my own atmosphere. For instance, the Mermaid’s “After work on Fridays” echoes the village’s tradition of occasional intimate concerts. “There is no denying that the local accordion club is very enthusiastic,” says the café owner with a smile, but she tries to vary the music, to satisfy her customers and listeners, who vary widely in age.
Little Mermaid Café opens at 8.30 every morning. By then the regulars are eagerly waiting to order their coffee. In addition to coffee she offers homemade cakes and open-faced rolls with the customer’s choice of toppings. “I am delighted that I inherited such a pleasant crowd of regulars,” says Sandra Åkebrand.
Her luscious chocolate cake and signature fudge cake are extremely popular. Each day there are often one or two other cake options as well, depending on how inspired the baker-proprietor is.
“I vary the lunch menu, but it often includes salad and soup, and a special sandwich. The caesar salad is especially popular,” she says. On the shelf is an assortment of coffees from Forvik, a respected coffee roaster situated at the eponymous old trading post near Brønnøysund. Sandra’s certificate as a restaurant chef adorns the wall behind her. The tables, benches and counter in the café are proof that Sandra is also a capable carpenter.
Enthusiasm, a can-do attitude and persistence are the key ingredients to starting your own business. Finding joy in baking is not enough. Sandra admits she has a stubborn streak in addition to being hard-working. In 2019, Sandra Åkerbrand took a course in entrepreneurship that gave her many insights. But the number crunching she leaves to her accountant.
“Merete Mattson, the goldsmith who also ran Sans, was well aware of my dream. When she called me in November of 2019 and asked whether I might be interested in taking over her café, I pretended to hesitate and think about it. But in reality my heart was shouting: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”