If any institution can inspire the Maltese nation to do good, it’s Serkin. In a divided nation, the pastizz unites all

The Skinny | No. 59 • Covid Shuts Down Serkin

What are we skinning? The forced closure of the Crystal Palace (aka Serkin) pastizzerija in Rabat due to complications arising out of new COVID-19 restrictions.   

Why are we skinning it? Because Serkin is about as beloved as local institutions can get, and bears the reputation of having the best pastizzi on the island, and therefore the planet.

But everyone needs to make compromises during a pandemic. We can just get our pastizzi elsewhere. But they won’t be Serkin pastizzi. Closing down Serkin is like closing down church.

Why were they closed down, anyway? They classify as a snack bar, surely…? Well… funny you should say that.

Huh? Turns out they were registered as a bar back in 1981, and will therefore have to close by law since the new restrictions apply to bars across the board.

But that’s ridiculous. Why would Serkin register itself as a bar? You’ll have to ask them. Convenience? Less bureaucracy? A reminder that ‘things were done differently back then’...?

Not that they could exactly predict a global pandemic would be affecting them in this way. And let’s face it, there is something appropriate about such a perennially Maltese institution adopting a perennially Maltese - read: embarrassingly lax - approach to licensing their operation.

Serkin is an historical place though. We cannot really judge its bureaucratic make-up by contemporary standards though, can we? I guess we can’t. But what does that say about us as a country?

That we’ve normalised lax approaches to licensing and other procedures for far too long? That’s one, for sure.

Though you could also say that the Maltese will let many things slide if a good pastizz is at the end of it. That sounds obscene, but I take your meaning.

I see that even Economy Minister Silvio Schembri has weighed in on the matter. Yes, he’s low-key chided Serkin for never updating their license.

Though to be fair, a Serkin that opens up only until 11pm - as snack bars are now allowed to do - can no longer cater to the soon-to-be-hungover drunken reveller crowd. Well, clubs are closed too…

You’re right. COVID-19 has made Malta’s hedonism chain collapse like a house of cards.

So what happens now? A little birdie tells me that Serkin appears to have struck a deal with the establishment next door to distribute their iconic pastizzi (and other treats) from that venue.

The solution appears to be understanding, mutual collaboration and inventiveness. It’s an inspiring thought, to be sure.

If any institution can inspire the Maltese nation to do good, it’s Serkin. In a divided nation, the pastizz unites all.   

Do say: “The nationwide shock that comes with Serkin’s closure may be a heartwarming reminder that we still hold such historic institutions close to our hearts, but it also encourages us to consider the negative side-effects of our country’s lax approach to bureaucracy, pastizzi or no pastizzi.”

Don’t say: “If you take Serkin away you may as well burn the flag, to be honest.”

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