Over two months later, restaurants in Malta have finally opened their doors once again, but this time under a strict set of protocols that limit service until 5pm.
Local restaurateurs are busy firing up the ovens and setting up service for lunch, surrounded by an atmosphere of cautious optimism both about the sustainability of operating under reduced opening hours and consumer confidence in dining out amidst a pandemic.
Lovin Malta spoke to several local restaurateurs to get their take on the first day of reopening, how they envision the next few weeks to pan out, and whether dining plans have exceeded their expectations after a burdensome hiatus.
Rouvin Zammit Apap – One80
“It’s busier than a regular Monday. It shows that the guests are looking forward to dining out,” said Managing Director of One80, Rouvin Zammit Apap. “We’re happy to be back, the staff are back and our Gozo outlet has been refurbished. We’re almost fully booked,” he said.
Chris Hammett – Hammett’s
“We had a little bit of a rush for the weekend. We have multiple locations so can’t open lunch everywhere. Most of the population cannot afford to go for lunch during the week,” he said.
“It’s ok for now, but it’s not sustainable. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not good enough. Our proper opening is in two week’s time. Hopefully, everything goes well on 24th May. We are looking forward to welcoming our guests and doing what we do best. I don’t feel like restaurants were the problem – restaurants were already closed when cases went up,” he said.
Marvin Gauci – Tarragon, Susurrus, Don Royale and Caviar and Bull
“We are opening our Italian restaurant for lunch, but other than that we’re not opening until the weekend. Most of our clientele book for dinner,” he said. “For this week we’re just going to play it by ear and see how demand is, and with that demand, we will supply.”
“For me, we start when we open for dinner. The restaurants are fully booked during the weekend but it isn’t about money, it is about opening and having the staff work and continue their normal routine,” he said.
“We want to make sure that at the end of the day, we use the food that we buy. Having said that, it looks like there is an interest so maybe next we’ll be open for lunches,” he ended.
Mark Vella – Seed
“We’re not fully booked but it’s fantastic to see that people are having breakfast in the restaurant and some bookings for lunch with our new menu,” he said.
“I’ll be optimistic when we see a lot of tourists come to Malta. We haven’t been tested with a huge amount of tourists since we opened – locals are our bread and butter during the weekend. But we have to be optimistic, it’s good to see the staff happy and some movement in the hotel and people out and about in the pjazza,” he ended.
Roberta Preca – King’s Own Band Club
“It’s going to be one hell of a ride. We’re booked during the week and we feel good about it. We’re looking forward to everything. The Valletta band club has been closed for eight months now. Hopefully, everyone gets vaccinated and cases stay down,” she said.
For the next two weeks, restaurants will be allowed to operate until 5pm. On 24th May, restaurants will be allowed to open until midnight as Malta relinquishes more Covid-19 measures.
Meanwhile, the island races ahead in its vaccination campaign with over 60% of adults taking a single dose of the vaccine.
Will you be dining at a restaurant this week? Let us know below