Dalida Bollig, owner of Downtown’s FIKA Swedish Cafe, arrived in the United States from Sweden nearly six years ago, leaving behind the unique culture of her hometown, Västerås, a small city about 45 minutes from Stockholm. After living in Hawaii, Colorado and Georgia, Bollig and her husband settled in Hattiesburg around two years ago.
“We moved to Hattiesburg because my husband accepted a job offer at Rare Design; he’s happy at Rare, and I’m happy to stay in the city,” Bollig said.
Bollig continued working for the Swedish government until January when she decided to open FIKA (pronounced feeka) Café in the Bakery Building located in downtown Hattiesburg.
The name of the café comes from the Swedish word that translates to “taking a break for a bite to eat along with something to drink,” according to the café’s Facebook page.
Offering a variety of Scandinavian food and treats, such as Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches called smörgås, house-made parfaits with Swedish lingonberry jam and uniquely flavored lattes, FIKA has effortlessly integrated itself into Hattiesburg’s extensive restaurant culture. With five-star reviews from nearly every customer, FIKA clearly offers more than just tasty food.
After being amazed at how different and unique each state was in the United States, Dalida made it her goal to share her culinary knowledge and to bring her heritage food specialties to Hattiesburg.
“I noticed there were not many authentic European places around, let alone any Nordic places in town, so I decided to bring my passion here,” Bollig said. “I’m very happy to share Nordic cuisine and baking with Hattiesburg, and I feel humbled by the love I’m seeing from the people of Hattiesburg.”
Being the only Swedish café in Hattiesburg, FIKA brings a unique atmosphere to the area. Bollig teamed up with Grin Coffee Company, a locally owned coffee roastery, to integrate elements of Hattiesburg into FIKA. Tommy and Alicia Teepell, Grin’s owners, helped Bollig create the FIKA roast, a Swedish style coffee that can only be found at FIKA. According to Grin Coffee Company, the roast features nutty and cocoa flavors with hints of berry and a syrupy finish.
Bollig praised the roast in a comment on Grin’s Facebook page, which said, “Tommy’s genius with coffee is unparalleled. I asked, and you delivered, and I’m so incredibly proud to serve it to Hattiesburg. Let’s cultivate happy together.”
Grin owner and coffee creator Tommy Teepell described his support for local business owners like Bollig.
“We love Dalida. She is passionate about people and food, in that order. With everything she serves, she’s looking for fresh, local products,” Teepell said. “Dalida’s attention to detail is remarkable. We were humbled for the opportunity to help her find the perfect coffee to serve at FIKA.”
Since FIKA’s grand opening on May 10, it has already accumulated a loyal group of customers. Anna Christine Mills works as the venue manager for the Venue at the Bakery Building and has developed a relationship with Bollig since January through working in the same building.
“Dalida is the sweetest. We were all really excited for her grand opening and are happy to see how successful the café has been so far,” Mills said. “I love visiting and grabbing a matcha latte and a cinnamon bun. Dalida stayed true to her Swedish roots, and I love that people get to experience that when they visit.”
Bailey Shelton, a senior communications major, has visited FIKA twice since the grand opening, and she believes the variety of cultures in Hattiesburg will help the city grow.
“The more options that are provided, the more people will be open to trying new things and eating out local. If it’s branded well and the food is actually good, then I think any restaurant has the potential to be big here,” Shelton said. “We’re a diverse city for Mississippi, and we need to keep growing and expanding that—food always helps.”
Though the café has only been open for a few weeks, Bollig said she already looks forward to sharing her accumulated knowledge, heritage and personal touch of various culinary fields through FIKA Café.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to seems excited and happy about FIKA. I couldn’t be happier to plant a seed for my passion in this cozy city,” Bollig said.
For more information about FIKA and to stay updated on specials and other events, visit their Facebook page here.