David Mercieca and his wife Lina have been baking bread since 1992. Their company, David’s Bakery, has gone from strength to strength and not only do they export to Malta, but overseas too. Veronica Stivala learns about the secret to their success.
“David and Lina would work through the night to keep up with the demand and would then sell their produce in the morning”
One of my favourite treats for a scrumptious Sunday morning breakfast is a slice of fruit and fibre bread, lightly toasted, with a smattering of butter and topped with a few slices of strawberries or bananas. Bliss.
This wholemealloaf, along with another six varieties of sliced bread, was introduced to mark David’s Bakery’s 20th anniversary since its founding in 1992. Featuring varieties such as multispeed, multigrain and wholemeal sliced bread, the new range is a reflection of the bakery’s innovative and hardworking approach to business.
Aware of the fact that people are becoming conscious of their health, David and LinaMercieca sought to introduce a range of bread that took this into consideration. All seven varieties are free from lactose, soya and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
What has now grown into an ever-expanding bread factory began as a small bakery in a garage when David was asked to bake bread for the people of Zebbug by a baker who was closing down. David had previously toyed with the building industry but felt it wasn’t really for him so he’d since started making sweet pastries.
He and his wife readily rose to the challenge andthey haven’t looked back since. When they first started out, and in order to keep their heads above the water, they would work through the night to keep up with the demand and would then sell their produce in the morning.David and Lina strived to listen to what their customers wanted and how they could better their product.
Indeed this hardworking approach is one of the reasons the bakery has done so well. That, and the pride the two evidently take in their work. Because the bakery and the Mercieca’s home in Kercemare connected, this allows easy communication between the bosses and the employees. That said, although David is the boss, he is also one of the employees and makes bread along with them.
“It’s important that we all work together,” explains David. Naturally this allows him to closely monitor his bread and pastry stuffs as well as enabling his 37 employees to be an integral part of the company. “Some of my employees have been working with me for 18 years,” he notes proudly.
It is clear that David and Lina work as a good team; for they often finish each other’s sentences and help each other out with explanations or thoughts.
In addition to the hands-on approach, the success of David’s Bakery also lies in the fact that the product is good, explain the husband and wife.
“We never cut corners,” asserts Lina. “We still use the same ingredients we used when we first started out.”
From selling to Zebbug, the demand soon spread across the whole of Gozo, then Malta some eight years ago and, most recently, to the UK.
The range of David’s Bakery products totals a whopping 350 items – ranging from fancy breads to baguettes, buns, ravioli,fig rolls, date tarts and village cakes (pastini tar-rahal). It could be said that the two stars of the range are the traditional Maltese loaf and the honey rings (qaghaqtal-ghasel).
“The Maltese loaf is sacrosanct. We will never stop making it, we’re so proud of it,” says Lina with conviction. She goes on to note that they are two of the few people to still make ‘pure’ Maltese bread with mother dough. This means a pre-ferment is used when making the bread and, although the process is longer, the bread lasts longer.
The honey rings, meanwhile, consist of a divinely sticky treacle-based filling nested in a crispy pastry that melts in your mouth.The husband-and-wife duo is keen to point out how it was their initiative to make smaller versions of the rings and sell them in packs of six. Because the bigger rings tend to take longer to be consumed, they go off more easily. Also, in this health-conscious age, perhaps digging into a smaller sweet makes one feel less guilty than were they to tuck into a large honey ring.
David’s Bakery is now so big that it is technically a factory. Yet David and Lina constantly strive to better improve their baked goods. David travels abroad to fairs to get new ideas and to keep himself up-to-date with trends and tastes. He also brings experts overfrom abroad to educate his staff about breads and sweets. Their latest venture involves building a massive extension to the factory as well as a little shop from which people can buy their goods. The two also reveal that there are new sweets and breads in the pipeline. My mouth is already watering.
David and Lina are humble, and are adamant to thank God, as well as their two sons, their families and their employees.