When you spend the majority of your childhood helping your parents take care of the restaurants and cafés that they own, delving further into the catering industry seems like an inevitable path to follow, or so you would think. Michelle Muscat, owner of Ristorante la Vela restaurant in Ta’ Xbiex had made it clear to her parents that she would further her studies and steer clear from the catering industry.
Boy oh boy was she wrong!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that business owners within the hotel and restaurant industry do not know the joy that accompanies having a public holiday off work, or the sensation of enjoying a relaxing weekend near the beach somewhere hot. “Whenever people were out celebrating a public holiday or enjoying their weekend off, my dad was always at work and we hardly ever spent time together as a family unless we went abroad. I was quite adamant about making sure that I did not mirror my parents’ decision to own such a business in my own future. Little did I know what was in store for me…”
After finishing my studies, I got a job in a finance department of a private sector. About 10 years ago, my partner at the time suggested we take over a wine bar in Valletta. My objection was immediate but after a while I gave into the idea; I only went there occasionally, so I could maintain my fulltime job. A year later he came up with another proposition: taking over a restaurant in Pieta. Initially I refused… but what can I say? The love for catering is in my blood; I gave in in no time.”
Juggling life between a full time job and managing a restaurant was challenging, but Michelle managed pretty well given that her partner at the time ran it as a full-time job. “After a year of going to and fro, I decided to give up my job and take it over completely. I found myself running the restaurant all by myself and I have never looked back. La Vela became my baby, my world. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.”
“Being a restaurant owner definitely has its ups and downs. The best thing about it has to be meeting new people every day, socializing, creating new events and seeing that customers are satisfied. However, it is a very demanding and stressful job which you will catch yourself thinking about at all hours of the day. You rarely have a social life outside of your place of work and travelling at your own leisure is not really an option.”
One thing is for sure. After a day at the restaurant managing and serving food, Michelle doesn’t really feel like cooking for herself. However, if you’re a friend, you’re in for a treat, as one of the things she loves to do on her day off is entertain guests. “I find it relaxing.”
The dedication that has been put into La Vela restaurant is unquestionable; having a restaurant which is up to standard takes time and passion, so it is of no surprise that their food is nothing short of fresh and genuine. Their Specialty? Local fish. Part of the maintenance of the restaurant includes chef Enrico making sure that the menu changes regularly every two weeks, but don’t fret if you’re craving one of the specialty dishes, as those are always on offer. For the wine lover amongst you, La Vela’s wine list is extensive, guaranteeing an excellent dining experience every visit. “Our customers can rest assured that at La Vela they will have a fantastic culinary experience in our very relaxed and friendly environment.”
“Our main aim is to keep our customers happy, with both our food and our unobtrusive friendly service. I believe it is of utmost importance to be present during service thus giving a personal touch to their meal. The greatest satisfaction in this line of work is having customers visit again and again, and more often than not becoming regulars.”
“My only plans for the future of La Vela is to keep improving on every detail no matter how minor. Every day is a new dawn with different challenges of its own. Together with the help of my fantastic staff and the infinite support of my family and friends, I promise to continue making Ristorante La Vela a favourite eating place amongst locals and foreigners alike.”