Interview with Namali – on life, Nama and Deia’s healing energy2nd September 2017

When Nama first opened in Deia in 2016 it was unlike anything else in the village and continues to amaze its clients with its unique décor, Asian influenced menu and vibrant energy.

Owner and founder Namali – mother, partner, entrepreneur and creator – is an inspiration and truly a pleasure to interview. I am captivated by her strength and openness.

Read on to learn about Namali’s story and how she ended up in a special little village in Mallorca.

When did you first visit Deiá Namali?

Four years ago. I took a two month break from living in a village in Munich and rented an apartment in Palma. That’s when I met Linus (Namali’s partner) in a coffee shop. He was living in Deia and already owned the town house we still live in. We got chatting and he told me to visit him and my mum who was with me at the time knew Deia and she encouraged me to go. And the rest is well, history!

What were your first impressions of Deia?

I remember the first time I drove in and drove out and thought what was that? it is tiny!! For me in that moment it was just a road and that is it. So I stopped my car and went up to his house and then you realise there is a whole village built on top of each other and such a beautiful church.

Three weeks later I was meant to go back to Germany but instead I moved to this house with my children who were 2 and 4 years old at the time.

It sounds like it was a big turning point in your life?

It was a time to really think about my life. Here I was in the mountains, walking, hiking, and really getting a “soul treatment”, especially after having a difficult time with my ex husband. Deia is the best place to really think about your life, what you want deeply and to refocus.

My friend Monika who lives here told me “you will be a lighthouse in Deia”. I look at the glowing lanterns on the terrace at Nama and feel like wow. It was such a perfect statement I’ll always remember her words.

Have you seen much change in the last four years?

Yes. The biggest is that there are much more people, which is good for us as we have the restaurant and we are super busy.

I feel our clientele are very aware of the beauty of the place, they appreciate Deia. Shows like the Night Manager have attracted many new people here. I see many faces returning, 80% are clients who are coming back again and again. We have regular customers who know the village for a long time. It is sad to me that the musical Sa Fonda side is dying. The hotels are complaining but people have been living here since the 60s and 70s so it is something that has been a part of the village for a long time. Music is such a special part of this place.

Tell me about Nama?

We opened our doors in May 2016 but we bought it 1.5 years before, and it was empty. Things don’t always happen when you want and a friend said why rush? if you have a puzzle and the pieces don’t fit then don’t do it. But a year or so later it happened. To be honest I never had a vision of having a restaurant. Neither Linus or I have the background. I was a production designer and a TV producer working in TV for 17 years. I know a lot about design but not food and beverage.

Wow that was a brave move then?

I love to have people in our home, I was born in Sri Lanka – my Father is German and my mother is Sri Lankan. Our house was super well known in Colombo. I remember a big table with people from all over the world coming over all the time to eat and when I came here I wanted to give that feeling back to my kids. We have a lot of friends visiting our home and we love it. My kids at the end of the summer ask when is the next person coming?!

So I always felt that having a restaurant was like opening a door to our home. It is also about giving something back to Deia and all the people who have supported us. I really like our Mayor Magdalena who is such a strong woman. She said Namali don’t give up.

What makes Nama unique?

Many things. We now have a big communal table that seats 13 and people really embrace it and start talking, they exchange numbers and that is what Deia is about. We are so open, so welcoming. I embrace people talking with each other it’s very buzzy and active inside.

Tell me about the interior?

We have been working a lot with local people which is important to us and we have this beautiful olive trunk natural roof, it’s so beautiful.

We were trying to find a gap in the village and with the bar we fill the gap if you want to have a drink in a cooler atmosphere. We are not the typical party location but a place to relax and enjoy high quality cocktails. Our mixologist Charles is British and has come from Ginbo bar in Palma he has lived here 16 years. His cocktails are amazing.

Tell me about the interior design?

Nama bar is designed by Matthew Williamson (who also bought a house in Deia last year). We met in the restaurant when he came for dinner one night and I didn’t know him at all then. A lot of people come who are celebrities but it doesn’t matter. That’s the nice thing you can just be. I don’t have photographs in Nama, I don’t expose anything and definitely no autographs. It is so important to really experience the moment and enjoy your privacy.

Tell me about your team?

This year we are 18, last year we were 6. We have an amazing team. This year we closed the restaurant for a whole day during August, our busiest time and treated everyone to a surprise day of massages, helicopter rides and a beach club. It’s so important to show appreciation to our staff. Without them we are nothing. There’s no point to have great food but bad service, that won’t work. We all work together.

Have there been any challenges along the way?

Last year I hit a wall, so I wrote a letter to my God and asked for help. I said I’m done. I felt like it was all falling apart. I felt tired and sad. I said please help me find a person who helps fulfil my dream without killing me, someone with a strong spirit. Then that night Janette from the supermarket went to our head chef Bonnie’s restaurant in Palma and spoke to her and 3 days later she came in the restaurant. And right away I knew, that is who we need!

Sounds like your prayers were answered?

Yes, we clicked perfectly.

I knew the potential of Nama but felt something or someone was missing. For the first two months she was employed as head Chef then then this year we made a new company and we are running it with Bonnie and her partner Arantxa who are both so experienced in this industry. For me it was so hard to deal with all the contracts and Spanish law – you learn through experience where you are strong and not strong. You see what you are not good at. I celebrate the strengths that I have but don’t ask me for what I can’t do!

Tell me about your menu?

Our clients really appreciate the good quality food. We source locally as much as we can with all our produce. We have a lot of vegan people coming in – it’s so easy if you do a curry you can either do it vegan or meat. Bonnie is very good in creating an alternative for people. She sees the response is so positive. Even people who are not vegan love to try it and are amazed by the taste!

What are your dreams for the future?

You never know. I would love to create a place where people inspire each other. A melting point of creativity. With Nama I’ve managed to open a gate, it is a meeting space and the restaurant gives me the opportunity to see and believe in myself. It is the first project I’ve ever done with Linus. He is the strong part of our partnership saying lets go for it! When I believe deeply, then I know it is going to be ok. Or I wouldn’t do it.

For me it is all about inspiration and healing. To clean your inner body is so important. That’s what happened for me when I came to Deia.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to move to Deiá?

Many people they are in a break or mid life crisis or new beginning, so from my own experience it is a place where you can really restart and get your energy back. You have to be aware that in the village it is lively and even though it is a village it is different to any other Majorcan village. You have to really understand and enjoy the Deia way.

What are your favourite things to do in Deiá?

Sitting on our terrace for dinner is perfect. One of the most beautiful things is a place that I go to near the Cala. I walk there and I look out and there is no one around and it gives me the strength. The nature and the energy is super strong here, both good and bad.

How do you handle the special Deia energy?

All your demons can come. You really want to change your life when you come here. With Nama I cleaned the space and rid of the old energy. I invited a monk and we used Selvia.

I think the women in this village are super strong. If we all would gather this energy it would be amazing! I believe we can really change and move things.

 

I think she might just be on to something..

 

Nama is open 7 days a week for dinner 7-10.30pm and 5 days a week for brunch 11-4.30.

Call  +34 661 59 30 38 for reservations.

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Interview by gemma@charlesmarlow.com

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