Riding high on the wave of our twentieth anniversary Restaurant Awards Gala Dinner a year ago, the team at The Definitive(ly) Good Guide Co. were basking in a sense of achievement. Apart from the special 20th anniversary edition of the annual restaurant guide publication; the most recent diversification into alternative food tours of Valletta and Mdina proved to be so popular that they had led to private tours being organised as team building experiences for local industries, as well as business travellers. As with other factions of the hospitality industry locally, we were totally unprepared when the unthinkable happened and effectively ground our business to an abrupt halt.
Cue carving out home office space as we scrambled to working from home. Juggling homeschooling and bemoaning the fact that any outside help effectively disappeared overnight was a steep learning curve. It soon became apparent that the best course of action would be to work when the kids were asleep- up with the crows and burning the midnight oil. The first order of business was how to diversify in order to survive such an ambiguous situation sustainably.
A cost cutting exercise was implemented as staff agreed to work reduced hours in order to ease the strain of cash flow on the company coffers. Availing ourselves of the relevant annex of covid wage supplement through ongoing negotiations, due to the complex nature of our business model, was a lifeline.
With the support from the current sponsors we made the decision to delay our annual restaurant survey to 2021 while the Malta Tourism Authority returned to collaborate with The Definitive(ly) Good Guide to Restaurants. This collaboration will see the next guide publication as well as the www.restaurantsmalta.com portal acknowledging Quality Assured restaurants alongside the survey based award winners.
The tsunami of challenging events unfolded relentlessly. Initially, I myself was required to quarantine- while we set up weekly Zoom meetings to guarantee a steady workflow. Shortly afterwards, a key member of staff became our very own covid survivor! The reopening of schools heralded in a welcome return to our office space, albeit sporadically and socially distanced- which felt surreal, but also a cause for celebration that we had survived what we hoped was the worst of it!
Taking the hiatus as an opportunity to brush up on our social media presence, The Definitive(ly) Good Guide’s foremost priority was to reach out to local restaurants and reassure them that we continued to be committed to supporting the catering industry through this tough time.
Measures were taken to bring our Offbeat Malta Food Trails in line with health authority’s regulations, while we reached out to any catering establishments which may be interested in collaborating on future food tours. Resigning ourselves that 2020 would be a challenge, the feeling of all being in this together helped to boost the organisation’s morale.
From our close contact with restauranteurs it soon became apparent that they were focusing their energy on keeping afloat until the situation improved. It was with a heavy heart that we bade farewell to some of the industry greats- most notably Patrick’s in Gozo and Panorama in Valletta; but were delighted when plans for new openings went ahead- such as Hammett’s Mestizo in St. Julian’s and Marvin Gauci’s latest venture Don Royale.
This indomitable spirit of the hospitality industry spurred us on. Locals rallied to ‘eat out to help out’ with government vouchers providing a great excuse to safely socialise islanders style- where food and drink are synonymous with much longed for self care.
Welcoming a break from cooking, Malta & Gozo’s population were only too happy to support the catering industry with weekly take-outs to mark the end of a tough week- a task facilitated by the various apps simplifying the process. Food delivery motorists quickly became part of the landscape and our restaurantsmalta website, capturing the zeitgeist and in line with their usual modus operandi, ran a survey on which were the nation’s favourite take-out options.
Judging from the feeling of island fever permeating our office, there is little doubt in our minds that wanderlust will be satiated during 2021- since we are all chomping at the bit for a getaway!
Establishing Malta as a gastronomic centre in the middle of the Mediterranean remains The Definitive(ly) Good Guide’s primary goal.
We are happy to offer the HORECA community a complimentary copy of The Definitive(ly) Good Guide to Restaurants in Malta & Gozo 20th anniversary edition, stunning in its brilliant new livery which can be collected weekday mornings from our offices at 34 Bishop’s Palace Street, Vittoriosa or the offices of HORECA Magazine, Mailbox Publishing, 229, Eucharistic Congress Road, Mosta, Tel. 9997 0282.
Our restaurantsmalta portal’s contents bear evidence of The Definitive(ly) Good Guide’s continued engagement and commitment to our advocacy role for Malta’s catering and hospitality heritage. Here’s to another twenty years and more!
We invite restaurants to keep in touch with us keeping us informed of new openings, special menus and themed nights and any other news while we keep supporting you through our website www.restaurantsmalta.com and social media on facebook and Instagram. You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. If any restaurants are interested in being a part of our Offbeat Malta Food Trails do contact us.
The Definitive(ly) Good Guide to Restaurants in Malta & Gozo is supported by