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Street food in Malta?

Hi all, we are a couple and we run a successful street food business in London. I know it might seem silly but even though London is beautiful I've been here for too long and we were looking somewhere else to go. Malta is on the top of our list but we are a bit concerned about the business. In fact we would like to move our business over there as we like our job. Of course we are not talking of the classic panini or hot dog van but instead a stylish and quality food in London style. My partner is very concern that might not be suitable for such business or that there are not enough young people (25-45) that is our target. On the other hand I can see a potential for it.....maybe I'm just hoping. Can anyone here help us with your opinion or suggestions? It would be very appreciated :)

Street food in Malta, your first problem would be to find a street that you can park in!
Have you been to Malta?

Restaurants are everywhere and food is cheap, street food is generally only found around the carnivals and tend to be traditional Maltese food or burger vans.

If you can find the right place to park,  get the necessary permits and avoid the "Maltese Mafia" it may work.

This link is for a street licence (note the restrictions).  commerce.gov.mt/lics_strHawkers.asp

Terry

Thanks for your answer. I went to Malta years ago and again we will go in 2 weeks. I am aware of the regulation and I am planning to get all the permission needed. In a place called Ta'xabiax if  I'm not wrong there are a few trailer and van which are pretty new in the scene that do Asian or vegetarian, I have also seen a couple of vintage vans. I thought that maybe something was changing..I really want to move :) :) :) :) :) London is killing me but business here goes very well and I want to make sure I make the right move.

I don't know that area very well but I would urge you to visit the island before you commit.

Its changed a lot in the past few years and is now very commercialised.

The Maltese are very protective of "their areas" and very money orientated.

Expect to be ripped off if you don't speak the language !

Good luck,

Terry

You are definitely showing me a more realistic scenario. Mafia is something I didn't take into consideration as I read often that Malta is pretty safe. I am Sicilian, also a reason why I want to move closer but mafia no thanks!! Regarding the language I was planning to start a course soon as my intention is to embrace every aspect of Maltese culture. But if you think we might not be welcome this changes everything.... :( Definetly will come to visit. Thanks again for your help.

If you need encouragement, run a Google search for "Bavarian Sausage Malta". It's a food stall run by either Germans or Austrians. They've been in Malta for years, and usually close to Sliema Ferries, which I believe is a great location for a food stall.

For the encouragement you need to have followed the whole story of Carsten's Bavarian sausage stand over the years. It was not easy for him and he had several failures along the way.

In my opinion it is virtually impossible for a foreigner to get a licence/permit/site for a successful ' street food' business in Malta. THe locations at village festas are passed on within the family and community . Stands on the streets are usually not permitted unless they move on after a few hours ( hawkers).

I wish you success and stand to be proved wrong in my opinion.

Cheers
Ricky

Many thanks guys. I know how this business work as it is my job and even here in London is not easy to get good spots and the competition is huge. My family went there for us to get information as they live close. My idea of street food is very far from what malta seems to offer. If you have ever been to London or America you might have an idea of what I'm talking about. In every business there are successful stories and not and those guys have probably worked very hard to get it. I had a few Maltese customers recently, I was so happy to speak to them!!!! All gave me positive feedback and advices and all said we should definitely move to Malta. It was nice to hear that as it is my dream, but I want to thank you because knowing the bad sides is even more important! If one day me, my partner and our vintage mobile kitchen will be in Malta I hope to see you there :)

Hello No57A

Maybe you mean Ta' Xbiex?

This forum is a reflection of any other social place in real life. If you think you're getting negativity and pessimism in abundance, you haven't seen the worst of it, believe me there are plenty.

I am not going to say Malta is the right place for you/your business or it isn't. For one thing I don't know what you do; more about this later.

Frankly, I am not sure what you expect(ed) to learn from this forum: if you got 4 or 5 comments saying it's a great idea, would you close shop and come here tomorrow? I hope not. If 8 or 10 people say 'it's impossible to succeed here', would you stop your dreams? I equally hope not.

What do you know about the Maltese people you met recently in London? What's their qualifications? What's their background? What's their experience or knowledge? I have a feeling you cannot answer these as you don't know.

What's the qualification of people on this forum? What's their motivations? What experience or qualifications they have? What do they know about running a business? a food business? and in particular what do they know about your particular type of service? In truth, you cannot answer that as you haven't got any idea....
If you cannot be sure of their knowledge, objectivity and accuracy; if you cannot trust them as you don't know them and if you cannot be sure they haven't got their own axe to grind then what real benefit/value is there in asking people here?

====
You're experienced people and of course you know your business better than anyone. The only people who can decide if Malta is for you, are yourselves! Isn't that obvious?
You have to come here and look around. not a weekend or even two weeks. You need to understand Malta, not only about business, but economic background of it and life here in general. Seasons are different here, climate is different here, cost of living is different and wages are very different. It's a different country. You need to learn all these. At least language isn't a barrier.

====
My private thoughts:
I am not at all clear what is 'street food'. In broadest sense, if not cooked at home, it's street food! I am neither sure what is 'London Style'? considering I moved here from London and have lived in different places, I should know. London offers some shabby even dirty food outlets and also very highest standards, dare I say same as everywhere else.

I must admit reading this worried me "On the other hand I can see a potential for it.....maybe I'm just hoping." How can you see the potential from over there?

My advice is this: if you decide to come to Malta, you come here because you want to live here - you maybe able to run a business similar to what you now have, but don't come here thinking you relocating your business. That is a more risky approach. Can you get someone to run your business in London for 6 months? Then you come here to live and have time to study Maltese way of life.
====
I come to places like this forum to ask questions and bounce ideas, but I come when I have already done my homework and made up my mind. I come here to hear what more negative things people can say that I need to safeguard about. People in general don't fail me: they always help and deliver!

Best of luck

Hi New Horizonz,

what do people expect posting such a question ? That is a good question and has to be answered by every person responding to the initial question in his own way. Then it is up to the initiator to put the answers together.

I for myself always try to give either a factual answer , if I know the answer, or otherwise my personal opinion based on my lifetime experience in sales and marketing plus my own experience of 7 years in Malta.

On the issue of the original poster's interest in setting up a mobile food business the facts are that if you go from St. Julians to Ta'Xbiex you will find following mobile outlets:

From Spinola Bay via Balluta Bay past Surfside on to Preluna Hotel and the Ferries in Sliema you will find exactly 1 mobile food stand. That is Carsten's sausage stand at the Ferries and , in the summer season, also at village festas. There is a pirate ship illegally parked there since they lost their permit to operate but it is out of business. A few mobile food stands came along last year but were removed as they had no permits.

From the Ferries to Ta'Xbiex there are no mobile outlets either.

The kiosks ( Gabannas) on the promenade between Balluta Bay and Ta'Xbiex are few and have all been there for more than 10 years and are Maltese owned.

I'm not saying that it is totally impossible for a foreigner to set up a new mobile business in this area but the reallity check does give an indication.

I'm quite sure that there is potential for the kind of food outlet that you are thinking of . The problem lies more within the Maltese mentality of protecting existing Maltese businesses and avoiding competition , especially from foreigners. This makes it very difficult even for good ideas to succeed.

Cheers
Ricky

Thank you Ricky. I am sure No.57A appreciates your more detailed comments, as I do.

As I mentioned above, I am not clear what's classed as 'street food'. To me, when not cooked at home, it's street food. I would include all food sold or prepared outside home.

If they want to make money in Malta, they will find the way. There are a lot of Italian restaurants in Malta: are they all Maltese? I have no ideas. I know there are some Turkish kebab shops everywhere so as British businesses eg. diving schools. I am only saying Malta cannot be closed to foreigners setting up a business here.

I'm not sure what the definition of street food is as presented by the original poster.

He/she were referring to trailers and vintage vans/vans in Ta' Xbiex. I've never seen these although I walk along the marina there just about every week from Sliema to Msida and back.

Of course Malta does not discriminate against foreigners ( ha,ha,ha)  but just makes things a bit difficult !

Italian restaurants along the Strand are sprouting as fast as they close again. It is the winter season but if a restaurant can't even make it over a few months you have to question the market research and business modell.

The Malta 'street food' is based on pastizzi, baguettes and pizza slices , as cheap as possible as the customers ( students) are not prepared to pay a lot for a snack.

To be honest, even I 'm not normally prepared to pay the price for a sausage from Carsten as it is way more expensive than  average street food ( Bratwurst mit Pommes) in Germany. Of course I acknowledge that the sausages are imported but ......

Bottom line: Market research and a very good business plan with adequate connections in Malta ( know somebody , who know's somebody who can give advice on how to go forward) is essential for success.

Malta is a family-run political business. And one of the most corrupt ones in Europe !

Cheers
Ricky

Thanks New Horizonz and ricky,

The reason why I ask people I meet or on this forum is to gain knowledge and share opinions. The answers I get don't change my mind. I know that probably not everybody here work in the catering industry and might not know the sector but I appreciate you guys are spending your time to answer me. I will go to visit Malta again (as it won't be the first time). I will live London only if, after going there for a longer time I will be sure this business can be successful. It is my dream but I won't be silly to leave everything I've got here without checking carefully! Regarding the "street food" our standards are very high, I know in London there are many dirty ones but are not part of that category. My boyfriend was a fine dining chef and I was a restaurant manager before we decided to open our own business and this was the best decision we took so far.

The reason why there are trailers and then they disappear is because they trade without permission. I spoke to the office already and getting the licence doesn't seems be difficult at all....
People trade without licence to don't pay their taxes. It doesn't surprise me they get moved.
I'm sure there are big traders that work anyway and this dosn't surprise me either.

Malta is a family-run political business. And one of the most corrupt ones in Europe ! - Ricky .........couldn't agree more !!!!!😩

No.57A :

The reason why there are trailers and then they disappear is because they trade without permission. I spoke to the office already and getting the licence doesn't seems be difficult at all....
People trade without licence to don't pay their taxes. It doesn't surprise me they get moved.
I'm sure there are big traders that work anyway and this dosn't surprise me either.

The next time you speak to that "person in the office" it will be a different person and you will get a different answer!

The Maltese may seem very laid back but don't come between them  and making money.
Expect to be lied too and misinformed by officials, its what they do but they do it with  a helpful smile.

As Moyes said Malta is corrupt and takes some getting used to, easy if you are retired but can be frustrating if you are trying to set up or operate  a business.

Of course its possible, hundreds have done it.

Research, research, research but you need to be here to do it!

Good luck,

Terry

I am from SICILY....do you think is different there?
But it doesn't mean you don't put the passion in what you do anyway.

No.57A :

I am from SICILY....do you think is different there?
But it doesn't mean you don't put the passion in what you do anyway.

You need to ask that question on the Italian forum.
Currently things are economically tough in Italy.

Our son lives in Italy and informs us that compared to Italy, Malta is at the bottom of the scale of corruption!

Terry

Hi,

I really do not want to discourage you, but I went to Malta Tourism Authority ( you need their permit as well if you want to run a catering business from a permanent location) with some friends last week as they want to start a kiosk. They where told that MTA does not issue any permits right now and the clerk was not even able to tell when permits will be available again. My friends only option is to be street hawkers  (which means that they can not have their business with 50 m from other commercial businesses, can not obstruct traffic, etc) so not easy to find a suitable location with foot traffic.
The vans you have seen in Ta Xbiex are there in lunch time for the Betssons and other offices, but huge competition and sometimes quite maffia style, what I have heard.

Actually you are incorrect.

There was an outlet - mobile food stall - which was so popular in Ta' Xbiex especially with workers on their lunch break that it ended up becoming a fixed shop not far away.

And now there is another new one which took their idea of health food mobile stall and it has opened in ta xbiex - at least that's where I saw it.

Plenty of young people, especially St Julians/Paceville area, obviously many more over summer months. Depends what you're selling and how much it costs as you'll have a lot of competition from cafes/bistros/pastizzeria etc.

so very true

Thanks guys. I know some people that are waiting for the permits. It seems to be the most difficult part. I know which one is the healthy trailer that opened the store now. They definitely did a good job! It is nice to hear that there are other traders in Malta. It is good to know that people start to get interested in street food. Most important I hope that the quality of the food is high and that there is a nice variety of different things.

Hi !
I know this post is quite old now, but it's time for an update , don't you think ? :)
I'd like to know how things are going on for you No.57A ?
Did you move to Malta ? Did you relocate your business ? How are you doing ?
What were the difficulties ? What do you think about the family businness and mafia threat ? Was it difficult to get the informations needed ? What about the licence and everything ?
Thanks for your answer :)
As Im thinking to start a street food activity in Malta, I'd be very grateful if you can share you experience
Thanks in advance
All the best !

Hi, no we are not trading in Malta. We have decided to stay in London. We went to Malta and got in contact with lovely people that run street food businesses. I am not sure how easy is to have the permissions (I haven't tried but it seems much harder compared to London) but the thing that made us change our mind was the volume of business you can have and the difficulties of finding the spot where to sell (you must be at least 50 meters from any other commercial activity) which means you hardly find a spot close to the busy paths and you might find yourself fighting with other traders for who gets there first.  If I wasn't doing street food already I would have probably tried but my business goes well here where I am and I don't feel changing would be the right choice. A better choice would be to open a cafe that does GOOD food. I say good food because I saw a tendency of selling bad Italian and English food for tourists and very little good choices. I can see that can go in the right location. Good luck!

OK, thanks so much for your quick answer !
Take care ! :)

It's still hard to get a mobile food business started ...  :mad:
Recently I got the opportunity to meet the French guy from the "La Rotisserie".
We had a good chat until the police came and they had to move on ... again.

It took them 7 months to get all necessary permits, but since they have a license for a "mobile food stall", they are not allowed to stay on one place. Further to this they have to keep at least 60m distance from any other similar business.
Since they are selling roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables, almost every other location selling food is a similar business - this is one of the reasons, why you won't find many mobile food vans along the promenade Sliema - St. Julians, But you can find them Gzira - Ta'xbiex.

He told me that the police is very friendly and understanding, but every time a Maltese food outlet owner reports the food van, they have to take action and give a warning.

Since they cannot stay one one place for a longer time, they announce their location on FB as soon as they move there.

If you like fresh roast chicken from Sicily (from the grill, not the deep fryer) and want to support the business of a foreigner like us  :) - check their FB site: "La Rotisserie Malta".

You will have a hard time against "pastizzis" at 1 €. Basically, be prepared to never sell anything to Maltese, only the foreigners. So you will have to base either in Sliema or St Pauls Bay. I wouldn't say impossible to achieve, but I wouldnt expect to do much more than have an average income (more than enough to live ok here though!).

I am starting a street food festaurant and i am looking for some body who know the job to be a partner

Constantini :

I am starting a street food festaurant and i am looking for some body who know the job to be a partner

I hope you have read all the above comments about how difficult it is for non Maltese to sell so called street food and to get all the correct permits, good luck.

I dont care coments. Thanks

Constantini :

I dont care coments. Thanks

You will if you do not succeed.

Constantini :

I dont care coments. Thanks

Not much point in posting on here then!
If you have the same attitude to customers I guess you will last about 5 minutes!

Ray

F0xgl0ve :
Constantini :

I dont care coments. Thanks

Not much point in posting on here then!
If you have the same attitude to customers I guess you will last about 5 minutes!

Ray

Or who knows, looking at some Maltese businesses (not all, though), this might be as well be just the right attitude ;)

:one

bernie_iris_fabian_david :
F0xgl0ve :
Constantini :

I dont care coments. Thanks

Not much point in posting on here then!
If you have the same attitude to customers I guess you will last about 5 minutes!

Ray

Or who knows, looking at some Maltese businesses (not all, though), this might be as well be just the right attitude ;)

Yesterday I had to enjoy another drive with a white taxi from the airport (why do they have a monopoly there?). You feel like being a nuisance to the driver.
Compared with eCabs for example, it's literally like black and white  :lol: ... but the white taxis rule the island  :P

Why not pre book a taxi before you leave Malta?

That would be an option, providing Air Malta keeps the flight schedule ...
But why is it still possible in this (civilised EU member-) country, that the only one taxi company, that is close to the government, still comes with rude drivers who have a full ashtray instead of a taximeter inside ... I guess that's even illegal nowadays. But who cares, it's only Malta  :lol:

matm911 :
bernie_iris_fabian_david :
F0xgl0ve :


Not much point in posting on here then!
If you have the same attitude to customers I guess you will last about 5 minutes!

Ray

Or who knows, looking at some Maltese businesses (not all, though), this might be as well be just the right attitude ;)

Yesterday I had to enjoy another drive with a white taxi from the airport (why do they have a monopoly there?). You feel like being a nuisance to the driver.
Compared with eCabs for example, it's literally like black and white  :lol: ... but the white taxis rule the island  :P

And this post has what to do with fast food outlets? ( The actual topic)

Ray

F0xgl0ve :

And this post has what to do with fast food outlets? ( The actual topic)
Ray

Ray, it's all about the right attitude  :D

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