A legend in her lunchtime: in conversation with Hayley Todd from No.43
When Hayley opened No.43 in Valletta, she did it without the support of deep-pocketed investors. But she could definitely count on an abundant passion for delicious, healthy food and a desire to share her vision with Maltese food lovers. As soon as Hayley took to social media and hit our feeds with her Instagram-famous salad bowls, word of 'this new healthy place' quickly started spreading round town. Before long, No.43 became the lunch break go-to for hungry workers and passers-by alike. In conversation with il-lokal, Hayley shared the staple ingredients in her secret recipe for success.
il-lokal: Who's behind No.43 and what's its story?
Hayley: I’m Australian with Maltese roots. I was living in London before I settled down here, but I used to frequently come to Malta to visit family and friends. Back in the UK is where I first experienced the colours, the tastes and the richness of small, independently-owned eateries. At one point, I wanted to slow down and live life at my own pace and that's when I decided to follow my dream and open my own business.
il-lokal: What was the biggest challenge you faced in your early days? How has that changed over time?
Hayley: We didn’t really have a good system in place. If I look back, it was a little bit of a nightmare, honestly. Most of the time, if not always, it's impossible to foresee everything that will be coming your way and you need to be ready to face those unexpected challenges and change the way you’re doing things. Challenges will always present themselves in one form or other, but luckily over time and with experience, you learn how to deal with them more effectively and improve on what you've done before.
il-lokal: Now that you've jumped over most of those hurdles, can you share the secret to a successful eatery in a high-rent capital and a competitive market? How do you attract new customers and keep your regulars coming back?
Hayley: Malta's a very small place, so word of mouth plays a huge role in attracting new clients. We love all of our regulars and we're very grateful to each and every one of them. We try to create a friendly and happy environment, where everyone feels welcome when they come over. We also use social media quite a bit and try to post as often as possible - that's how we put ourselves out there. We love it when people tag us on their stories, it’s just so exciting to see people enjoying the food you made for them!
It's of course, our food that's at the centre of our success. We offer a lot of different food options that change daily. We try to keep it exciting for our customers, we like to spice it up. Food is what we do best, it's the reason why we're in business. Having said that, I'm proud to say that we have an amazing team and we couldn't have done it without having them on board.
il-lokal: Your take on the traditional Maltese ftira is totally unique. How do you come up with new taste combinations?
Hayley: We have an amazing chef who just knows what colours and flavours work together. We also aren’t afraid to experiment and introduce new combinations. Our customers are always very supportive and quite a lot of feedback about what worked and what didn't so much, comes from them too.
il-lokal: Do you keep yourself up-to-date with the latest trends in the food and beverage world?
Hayley: There are lots of trends out there and it’s really great that Malta's not just keeping to itself, but is looking at what's being offered in other places and coming up with its own take. The local population are becoming more conscious of what they eat and realising that delicious and healthy CAN go together. I think social media, for better or for worse, plays a huge role in a lot of our decision-making, including our food choices. It’s become trendy to eat healthy and show others that you're doing it. It’s nice to see that people are taking care of themselves in that way.
il-lokal: What advice would you give to someone thinking about opening their own eatery?
Hayley: Lead the trend, don’t follow it.
One book every aspiring entrepreneur should read?
The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
Which are your 3 favourite independent businesses in Malta and why?
That's a really hard question. I think there are lots of amazing local businesses with creative people behind them that do great work in making Malta a better place. I love the little flower booth under the arcades between Republic and Merchants St. The owner is the sweetest 80-year-old man and he’s a real inspiration to me. I’m grateful for his fresh flowers every day. He takes the top spot on my list of favourite independent local businesses.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
You are supporting someone's dream ♥
|Location:||43 Merchants St. Valletta|
Edited by Manuela Zammit.