Even the name of Murella Living is inspired by family and Gozo’s social history. Murella is the family nickname of the trio of brothers who own the Jubilee Group of Companies, creators of Murella Living and a spate of other sophisticated brands in hospitality. This is not unusual, for every family in Gozo has a nickname; and when people in Gozo meet someone or talk about someone, they ask about that person’s family nickname, and then place that person within the context of his or her family. And the trio of brothers chose the name Murella exactly because it arises and celebrates – like the interior design – Gozo’s unique (social) character.
But the accommodation concept rises above the family history: it’s the latest flagship project of the trio of brothers who have created a string of successful brands in food and hospitality over a history stretching for 21 years. It all started way back in 1995 with a seaside restaurant in Marsalforn called Otters in which the brotherly bond transformed itself into a formidable business force: the restaurant made a name for itself much larger than its size and informal nature would have suggested, and the brothers found out that they could work together with synergy. In fact three years later they opened Café Jubilee, situated in the heart of Victoria (Rabat), and it was so successful that it spawned a spate of imitators – many new cafes in Gozo copied the unique design of Café Jubilee, although none of the imitators could match the subtle qualities that made Café Jubilee such a hit. Now there are three branches of Café Jubilee in the Maltese Islands – the original one in Victoria, as well as two branches in Valletta and Gzira. (Café Jubilee has become one of Malta’s most popular cafes; it’s also listed in international guidebooks and travel websites as one of the most eminent café-restaurants in the Maltese Islands.) Riding on this success, another brand that celebrates Gozo’s traditional heartiness was conceived: a range of Gozitan delicacies, such as hand-crafted jams and chutneys, traditional pastries and the ever-popular traditional ravioli, all sold under the Jubilee Foods brand.
Once these businesses were consolidated, in 2011 the brothers embarked on another project, this time opening Murella Pizzeria & Restaurant in the heart of Marsalforn (within the Hotel Calypso complex set back from Marsalforn’s small fishermen’s harbour), a restaurant with a funky design and wood-fired oven. And within the next two years they opened two outlets in the same location – Candy Café and the Murella Piano Lounge & Cocktail Bar – a cluster of three businesses that are still going strong today.
These three latest outfits marked the brother’s return to Marsalforn, and that focus on Marsalforn – which is where they grew up – has now been consolidated with Murella Living. In fact Murella Living is situated in the very building where the brothers grew up; they bought two adjoining buildings and reconverted their former home along with the two other buildings into Murella Living. In this way, the brothers have gone full circle: they began from Marsalforn, spread their wings in Malta and abroad (there is a branch of Café Jubilee within an upscale hotel in Budapest; and Café Jubilee was also within the Malta pavilion in the Shanghai 2010 World Expo), and now they have returned to Marsalforn, to their childhood home in essence, to create their latest flagship project.
It’s been a long and unexpected journey for the brothers, but there is one thing that hasn’t changed: their style of hands-on management. It has been one of the guiding principles in all their business ventures, the necessity of being involved in the running of things and nurturing the employees with the right aptitude (and rewarding them by handsome wages). And this tradition of hands-on management now also extends to Murella Living: one of the brothers lives within the property to attend to guests’ needs with a personal touch, and to deal with any issues that arise promptly and effectively.