Very few companies have mange to glide from decade to decade whilst maintaining the same cross-generational respect that Jubilee Group does, but such a feat doesn’t come without its struggles. In our latest episode of MFiles, we met with Managing Director of Jubilee Group Anthony Scicluna, who gave us some insight on the birth, growth and longevity of Jubilee Group since its inception in 1998.
The youngest of 4 siblings, Scicluna recalled growing up in a family-centric environment where he had a close relationship with his brothers and now-partners, Mario and Alex. One day, the eldest brother Alex approached his two brothers with a proposition for a restaurant and whilst it was never their intention to get into catering, they dove headfirst into the idea and after opening their first Cafe Jubilee outlet in Marsalforn, they didn’t have time for anything else.
Following their initial business venture at the Otters waterpolo pitch in Gozo, which would operate for four months per year due to direct exposure to the elements, the Scicluna brothers started looking into another Gozo outlet which could operate year-round – eventually opening the very first Cafe Jubilee in Rabat in December 1998.
With the original Rabat location being named ‘Silver Jubilee’, inherited from the British colony, the word itself ‘Jubilee’ was being mentioned frequently across various media outlets, so the brothers thought it would be a trendy, contemporary choice for their brand new cafe. Fast forward to 2022 and the name is still as iconic as ever and a household name.
Scicluna revealed that the cafe’s aesthetic concept stemmed from a desire to deflect from the (at the time) overused ‘farmhouse effect’ look, which led them to create something different. Plastered walls, British pub-style columns, French cafe-like frames and other decorative twists have contributed to Cafe Jubilee’s now-iconic look. The aesthetic, paired with the cafe’s aim to welcome all casual patrons for coffee and snacks, made Jubilee the success it was.
Jubilee in Malta
Following its Rabat opening in 1998, Scicluna recalled that Cafe Jubilee would welcome waves of Maltese patrons, who would take one-night trips to Gozo in the weekend to socialise and watch live bands. Such success in Gozo led the brothers to explore the possibility of opening an outlet in Malta, which led to the opening of another Cafe Jubilee in Valletta in the year 2000.
Scicluna stated that people would call him crazy for wanting to open a Valletta outlet and nowadays, not only did they open the outlet and perform well, but the shop has not closed for a single day in its existence.
This same drive led the brothers to strengthen the concept and after a opening the Gzira outlet and rebranding in 2005, Jubilee Group opened its first Cafe Jubilee in Budapest in 2010 – an opportunity which Scicluna called a great experience and a learning curve which offered a lot of information and personal growth.
From taking over the Otters’ pitch to opening the first Cafe Jubilee in Malta, Jubilee Group explored other business opportunities, leading to the occupation of the Hotel Calypso’s ground floor outlets. This allowed the entrepreneurs to launch of the Murella Pizzeria & Restaurant as well as the very familiar Candy Cafe, all of which considered different target markets.
With the group’s success on a high, the Jubilee Foods brand came as a by-product of the cafe. The Goat’s Cheese Ravioli and iconic Cheese and Pea Cakes became so synonymous with the brand that the group took a decision to create a manufacturing plant in Gozo to ship Jubilee’s products to the Jubilee outlets and other establishments and supermarkets.
The Next Step
In a long-standing attempt to avoid the ‘comfort zone’, Jubilee Group decided to open Murella Living, a 24-room B&B in Marsalforn, which also proved to be successful. Such an expansion solidified the Jubilee Group brand as a multi-faceted brand with different targets in catering and hospitality. Such a need to rethink, adapt and move forward allowed Jubilee Group to transform the Gzira Cafe Jubilee outlet into Ayu, a trendy fusion outlet which appeals to Gzira’s cosmopolitan state nowadays.
Today, Jubilee Group has 10 successful brands and the only thing Scicluna could say to address such development is ‘thank you’. Together with his brothers and business partners, Scicluna thanked Jubilee Group’s long-standing customers and highlighted the importance of perceiving negative comments constructively. He revealed that, rather than further growth and expansion, the next step for the Jubilee brand is-self reflection and consolidation.
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