Rådhusgatan 22 - Ester Castel
Hotel-owner and restaurateur
(b. 1900 - d. 1995)
Ester Castel was the beloved owner of Hotel Centrum, which she ran here for several decades: between 1939 and 1971. This house originally belonged to postmaster Johan Vilhelm Bladh, son of Petter Johan Bladh, the man regarded as the founder of Kaskinen.
Ester grew up in Vaasa in modest circumstances. She had to start working when she was still a child. In her thirties, she was responsible for two major hotels in Vaasa. Ester was 39 when she heard about the possibility of buying a business of her own in Kaskinen. The previous owner's wife was beside herself with boredom in this small town. She wanted to move away and her husband, originally from Denmark, was left with no other option than to sell his business in Kaskinen.
There were 30 rooms in Ester's hotel and, as many will recall, a restaurant. Several former Finnish presidents, among them Kallio and Kekkonen, have stayed here. But that's not what made Ester special. At the true core of her business were the wienerschnitzels. They were known to be huge and delicious. So good that all the sea captains harboured in Kaskinen wanted to become landlubbers long enough to taste them. And those happy customers spread the word to Finland's other ports.
Locals said that the schnitzels were 'as big as the lid of the outhouse toilet seat'. Of course, local businessmen and pretty much everyone who could afford to eat in a restaurant would come to Ester for dinner.
Ester held a dance every week - with live music, of course. She wouldn't have it any other way. She would sprinkle stearine on the floor from a cigar box, making sure it was just perfect for dancing. People came from far and near to dance. From the harbour's seamen to farmers from neighboring villages, everyone was welcome.
This much-loved and energetic lady ran the hotel until she was 71 years old. She then sold the business and established a study fund for the local youth.