It’s the second Easter weekend without any COVID-19 restrictions and many of the country’s restaurants seem poised to be bursting with families gathering and dining together, as is tradition for many households. But the situation is not that rosy for all establishments.
This newsroom caught up with a number of the country’s restaurants to check the pulse on the level of activity they anticipate this Easter Sunday.
“We were fully booked for Easter three weeks ago”, said Malcolm Pisani, events, and operations manager of Merkanti, in reference to their Valletta waterfront restaurant.
He explained that they operate two restaurants in Valletta, and for Easter Sunday, they’ve offered two different types of menu. Their waterfront restaurant dining experience is on an a la carte basis while their other restaurant in the heart of city has a set menu.
When asked whether he thinks the style of the menu made a difference in the number of bookings, Mr Pisani responded in the affirmative: “I think people felt restricted by the set menu,” adding that, depending on the activity, “we might do a buffet for Mother’s Day.”
He also added that, while their waterfront restaurant is fully booked, it’s a highly competitive space, “people go to the waterfront with a restaurant in mind, you don’t generally pass through there when you’re shopping in Valletta.”
A number of mid-range restaurants located in the Central and Northern region informed this newsroom that they expected things to be quite busy this Easter.
However, some outlets were not as optimistic.
A spokesperson for a Marsascala-based restaurant who wished to stay anonymous said that they’re not expecting it to be that busy this year-round, “we’re taking it day by day.”
Another restaurant that recently opened in the Central Region of Malta shared that it was struggling to get bookings and expects it to be fairly quiet this Easter.
The rising cost of living as a result of a persistently high rate of inflation, may have eaten into families’ plans to dine at a restaurant this year.
As of March, the annual rate of inflation stood at seven per cent, only 0.4 per cent below its peak in October 2022. The cost of food continues to be the main reason for inflation, which inevitably leads to a more expensive outdoor dining.
Tony Zahra, president of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), told BusinessNow.mt on Thursday (6th April) that, “over the past three days I’ve speaking with our members, and they expect accomodation to be as busy as it was in 2019.”
He explained that the MHRA uses 2019 as a benchmark, since it was the final year before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and also a record year of activity.
“With regards to catering, so far bookings are still below what they were in 2019, however, we expect that to change in the last few days before Easter Sunday,” adding that he expects it to be just as busy or even busier than it was in 2019.
Boosting heads in beds, does not correlate with an improvement in quality.
The Malta Tourism Authority will provide local councils with information about owners of holiday premises