The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Illegal restaurant to be compensated for Mgarr ix-Xini ‘blockbuster’ film

Malta Independent Sunday, 13 July 2014, 10:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

Tens of thousands of euros will be paid out to businesses forced to close because of the ‘blockbuster’ movie to be shot at Gozo’s Mgarr ix-Xini by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie - one of which is, in fact, an illegal site.

The restaurant in question, however, has been in breach of a Mepa enforcement notice since 2007, and is labelled as “pending direct action”.

During the recent Malta Business Weekly breakfast, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat dubbed the Bradgelina film as a “blockbuster” to be shot on the Maltese Islands.

Sandra Vella, who runs the restaurant with her husband Noel, confirmed this week that she will be receiving compensation for having to shut down while filming takes place, but she did not reveal the exact amount. “I’m not going to make as much had I remained open throughout these months, but at least I’m getting some form of compensation,” she said.

The kiosk-cum-restaurant is a blue, part metal part stone structure, with tables and rusted metal chairs in front covered by blue and white umbrellas.

A white van driving up to the restaurant contained fresh fish and boxes of alcoholic beverages, which were wheeled up into the restaurant. Emptying the van took a good 15 minutes, with Gozo the dog trotting back and forth between the van and the restaurant.

“They told me that I can either accept it or deal with the beach being closed off and not having any customers. They didn’t leave me much choice,” Sandra said. “I’ll re-open in November”.

The beach will be turned into a village-type set with grocers, she whispered. Production is set to start sometime in August, with construction for the set already taking place.

Further up the ramp leading down to the beach, there is another kiosk in the form of a small truck with tables and chairs also present; however no enforcement notice is visible on the Mepa website. It is not clear whether this mobile kiosk has a permit either.

A kiosk in San Blas has had an enforcement notice in place since 2009; the kiosk in Mgarr Ix-Xini has had a similar notice since 2007. Both notices state; “pending direct action”.

The breach surrounds the illegal creation of a restaurant, with tables, chairs and umbrellas placed outside without permission.

The road leading to the beach will be completely sealed off and boats will not be allowed to enter the Mgarr ix-Xini bay during production.

Reports in the media said that the film is being directed by Angelina Jolie and is said to leave behind roughly €20 million in the Gozitan economy.

Brad and Angelina arrive in Malta in August and will stay for around two months.

Last month The Malta Independent on Sunday revealed that a sidewalk café in Sliema was in breach of Mepa regulations and had built an underground kitchen and placed more tables and chairs than was allowed. A trend has emerged with many such kiosks exceeding their boundaries and converting themselves into restaurants illegally.

Ricasoli, an area swept clean during the SmartCity development, saw legal businesses being helped to move elsewhere while others were forcibly ejected. Yet in the situation regarding the ‘blockbuster’ at Xini beach, the restaurateur is to be paid compensation by the producers or the film production studio to vacate the illegal premises temporarily.

Although complaining about being closed down, Sandra says it will be her first vacation in many years.

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