My first Kota Grill Experience – Love at First Sight

Some things are meant to happen.

My first experience of a Kota Grill was while staying at the Residenz zum Zollhaus hotel in the rural town of Rastede in northern Germany.  It was November 2015 and my second business visit that year.

After an intense day of work, I went to the patio outside my hotel where I could relax and enjoy my Jever Pilsner in peace. 

Hotel Zum Zollhaus

There in the middle of what had been the Biergärten back in the summer stood a cute ivy-covered, ‘hobbit-like’ hut with firelight flickering through a small window in the door.

kota hut outside the

Intrigued, I entered the cabin and to my delight there in the centre was a wood-fire crackling in a raised steel fireplace, surrounded by wooden tables and topped by a grand smoke hood and chimney soaring up through the peak in the roof.

With cushioned benches set against each of the five walls, here was an invitation for me to stay a while. And with the sweet smell of smoke and the firelight’s glow warming the space, I was smitten. Without hesitation, I joined the small group of people who were already having a wonderful time hanging out by the fire.

Maybe you've heard of the Scandinavian word ‘hygge’? It translates into a feeling of ‘coziness, conviviality and well-being’. Well, my first Kota Grill Cabin experience was exactly that -- ‘hygge’ -- and for me, it was love at first sight!

Hygge and Home

I am Canadian and I love being outdoors, no matter the season. The Kota Grill cabin seemed the perfect backyard hideaway for Canada's long, cold winter nights; and for those warm summer evenings when the swarming mosquitoes are too much to stand!  In that instant, I decided I wanted my own Kota Grill Hut back home.

Oliver Dawson, winter with the Kota Grill and Kota Hut

Searching around the hut for a brand, I found the name - Polar Metalli - and ‘Googled’. Turns out this family-owned company was located in Lapland, otherwise known as ‘arctic’ Finland. Seemed Polar Metalli was well known in Europe and the UK, both a metal fabricator of specialty steel products and the global leader in the manufacture of Polar Grilli Kota Grills. 

On the spot I emailed them to find out where to buy a Kota Grill in North America only to come up dry. There was essentially no one importing this amazing Finnish lifestyle product to Canada or even the U.S.A.! If no one was bringing these to the ‘new world’, then I guessed I would have to be the one to do it.

Midnight Flight arriving Kemi, Finland,
The Midnight Flight in Finland!

Polar Grilli

Before long I flew to northern Finland to see the production facility and manufacturing processes firsthand and to meet the owners, the Sauko family. It was late May and the ice was only just leaving the harbour! Their location was, after all, just south of the Arctic Circle; hence the brand name, Polar Grilli.

When I got to the site I was impressed with a state-of-the-art robotic welding process; paint-shop reflecting a rigorous attention to detail; and a ‘no-compromise’ approach to quality.

welding shop Polar Grilli

 I learned that Polar Grilli sold their products all over Europe, including England, but not yet to North America. I felt passionate that North Americans needed to know about the Finnish Kota Grill experience and was convinced that Polar Grilli was the right partner for a new business.  My newly registered company Kota Grills became the exclusive North American importer and distributor of Polar Grilli Kota Grills. 

kota grill label

Looking Back

In retrospect, that evening in Germany was the trigger that started this wonderful Kota Grills adventure we find ourselves on today. This is just the beginning of our story… 

Oliver in the kota hut

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