Not that COVID was easy for Daniel. With
restaurants closed for 14 long months off-and-on, takeaway became the company’s lifeblood.
As he reflects on the period, Daniel admits it
wasn’t easy, but it did lead to some silver linings
“The pandemic both destroyed me and made
me,” he says. “Before COVID, I was doing well
business-wise, but I was quite disorganised.
When it hit, I learnt my lesson that business isn’t
a game. It made me greatly appreciate my staff
and not take them for granted, and it prepared
me to mentally ready myself for the worst case
The pandemic has also refocused Daniel’s
attention. Besides continuing to burst with
ideas for his next big business venture, he has
come to realise the importance of a factor that
was, to a great extent, eliminated throughout
the pandemic – quality of service. To do this,
he is literally practicing what he preaches
and has started working as a waiter in his
own establishments. There, he learns from
– and teaches – his staff, socialises with his
customers, and keeps an eye on the quality of
the dishes as they emerge from the kitchen one
“Restaurant service is often underwhelming
in Malta. There should be a balance of great
food and great service, but I actually think great
service trumps great food. Customers want to
be communicated with and to feel comfortable
when they’re at a restaurant,” he says.
not only dishes from his own kitchens that
receive Daniel’s watchful eye. His critique has
expanded to thousands of homes around Malta
and Gozo, where viewers tune in to watch
Gourmet Challenge – a cooking competition
broadcast on national television. There, Daniel
stars as a judge, and critiques participants’
meals. Although occasionally blunt, he believes
in the importance of honest feedback to
achieve necessary improvements.
So, what next?
With so much happening for the restaurateur
in less than a decade, you can’t help but
wonder about his future plans and long-term
goals. However, for Daniel, the answer seems
obvious: “I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing –
experimenting, working hard, keeping my staff
happy. Sometimes succeeding and sometimes
failing. The most important thing is that I keep
trying,” he adds.
When it comes to his short-term goals,
however, there is always a new idea, a new
cuisine and a new establishment in mind. This
time, it’s YouTube videos of pizzaiolos he’s
watching, in the run up to his new pizzeria in
St Julian’s. After that, who knows? Eatery ideas,
like cuisines, are almost endless.
Click here to see Horeca Issue 5 online