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An interview with Deia devotee and dog lover Namali Schleberger of Restaurant NamaMay 23, 2019

From time to time, we like to introduce you to our friends in the magical village of Deia. This week we’re talking to the remarkable Namali Schleberger of Restaurant Nama .

Please tell us a little about yourself, Namali.

I’m Namali Schleberger, half Sri Lankan and half German. I was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. When I turned eight, I moved to West Berlin, which has inspired me in many ways. I loved spending my childhood and teenage days in that amazing city. In my twenties I moved to Munich.

How did you wind up in Mallorca?

I came to Mallorca from Munich after separating from my ex-husband, needing rest and fresh air. I was planning to stay for just two months with my two kids and my dog and then go back to Germany. But I fell in love with my now partner, Linus, who was training as a professional cyclist in Mallorca at that time and had a house in Deia. He was the person who showed me Deia and that’s where it all began.

What was your first impression of Deia?

My first impression of Deia was that it was so small! There’s no space to park and you just drive through so fast! I was like “What’s all the fuss about Deia?” I came in around March so Deia was still a sleeping beauty. I was a bit disappointed at the beginning but Linus said the village is more beautiful on foot. So I parked my car in front of La Residencia and began walking. That’s when I thought: “Oh my goodness, this is beautiful!” I went up to the church, had a look and fell in love with Deia. You can’t not fall in love with this village.

How long ago was this?

I came to Deia six years ago and I’ve been living here permanently ever since. It was a major life change for me, I was with two small kids and had a big decision to make. Do I want to change my life completely? Do I want to change my job, leave my home country, my friends and family? I used to work for big TV shows as a production designer. I was doing stage sets worldwide, working nonstop and travelling a lot. I had no time for myself or my kids. Mallorca was the first time I came to a full stop. I realized who I want to be and how I want to live. Deia was the perfect place for this change and, even though you have to fight a lot of demons here because the energy level is extremely high in the Tramuntana mountains, I loved every second of my transformation.

How was your first year in Deia?

My first year in Deia was incredible. At the beginning I went for a lot of hikes in the mountains and to all the beautiful beaches. It’s very relaxing and gives you the headspace to think about a lot of things. This was a year for me to reflect, to look back at what I did and didn’t want to do. I had just turned forty and your forties are the best years, so I thought let’s see what else is in store for me.

What made you start Restauant Nama?

We saw this house in the village which used to be a restaurant before. We decided to buy the house without any real plans. But we thought it would be silly not to open a restaurant since that’s what the house had been used for in the past. The house was closed for one and half years because we really took our time to open Restaurant Nama. We had zero experience in gastronomy, but we had a clear vision of what we would like to do and know how we like to feel when we go out to a restaurant.

How did you manage to create such a beautiful, welcoming restaurant with no previous experience?

In my first year in Deia we had lots of friends and family coming to our home. That’s when I really fell in love with being a host and having people around – making them feel at home, sharing magical moments. All the talks on our terrace with friends sharing similar life struggles were inspiring. At one point I had all these friends crying on my terrace and Linus, my partner, was standing there thinking “What have I gotten myself into?” (laughs) But I knew then I wanted people to feel welcome while they were sharing a good quality meal.

One of the most important things is the lighting in Restaurant Nama. If a man and a woman come for a candlelit dinner and the lighting is warm and romantic, the man will think “Oh my god this is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life”. I want them to feel like they’re falling in love again, to feel comfortable and enjoy a special night. We have put a lot of love and even our personal belongings into the space, including books (one written by my Dad), pictures and other bits and pieces collected on our travels.

When Restaurant Nama opened in 2016, it was an immediate hit and became the place everyone talked about.

We opened up just one floor of Restaurant Nama in 2016, because we weren’t sure if it was going to be successful. But we seemed to attract a lot of people right away and they were curious to see the new space that had opened in the village. My first night working in the restaurant was the funniest. I had no clue, really, what I was supposed to do. Up until then I’d been so busy decorating it that I hadn’t thought about the real work. After serving my first client, I called my friend Jeannette, who owns the lovely bakery/supermarket in the village. She saved my life that night and no one noticed how useless I was. But they loved to be pampered by me wearing my biggest smile and excusing myself for all the little mistakes I made.

Still, I learned a lot and a year later we added another floor to Restaurant Nama, a second terrace called Namakase. It’s the same food but the atmosphere’s a bit more relaxed and private. We don’t have kids up there. We do cooking classes as well and they’re fun. Our business partner Bonnie, the best chef we could have dreamt of, makes cooking a fun experience. We wanted to keep this part very intimate and suitable for romantic candlelit dinners and group events. When people book, we know straight away what kind of experience they’re looking for and where it’s best to put them.

Because this was such a big success you opened a sushi bar right next door, is that right?

Creating Restaurant Nama opened up so many doors for us. We met so many incredible people in Nama the first year and made great friends among the customers. One was Matthew Williamson. At first I didn’t know who he was, but my friends filled me in (laughs). Matthew was also looking for a new direction in his career and was getting more into the interior design sector. At the same time, we discovered this space next door and so we asked him if he would like to help us convert it into something special. He said yes! It was a fun project. We went to flea markets, trying to find bits and pieces everywhere.

There are a lot of things that Matthew designed and created, like the wallpapers and cushions for example, which makes the space really a signature piece. Thanks to a very talented designer! At the beginning we thought it would just be a cocktail bar but then we thought we’d like to offer sushi as well. In 2018 we started offering sushi in the bar. You can either have a full sushi experience, and I’m proud to say the sushi is amazing, or just a pre-drink and an appetizer before your main meal or an after-meal drink. Once a month we host special events there. We have a DJ coming or theme nights. I think a place like this was what was missing in Deia.

I went up to the church, had a look and fell in love with Deia. You can’t not fall in love with this village.

Last year you began to offer your home in Deia for holiday rentals through Charles Marlow. Tell us about the first year of rentals for Casa Nama?

It’s been incredible, because the house has really a lot to offer. It has a pool, four bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and it’s in walking distance of everything. We also have private parking, which in Deia is hard to come by. All the clients we’ve hosted so far have been very nice and I’m so happy that they recognize how special this house is for us. The terrace is magical. You have the stars above you, sea views, mountain views and marvellous views towards the La Residencia gardens.

Interior Casa Nama with friendly face

The house has been completely renovated. Tell us more about the transformation.

My partner Linus bought the house in 2011. He saw a lot of potential in it and reformed it. He was travelling a lot and became inspired on his trips. He’s really into properties and how spaces or plots of land can be transformed into something everyone wants to have. He put a lot of effort into creating the kind of special house you wouldn’t see anywhere. It has traditional Mallorquin elements but is also a breath of fresh air. Everything in the house is handpicked and materials are of the highest standard. He did all that and when it was nearly finished, I moved in. Together, we started converting the house into a home, filling it with life and love.

Exterior Casa Nama

It seems like you both really enjoy these transformation projects, are there any other projects in the future?

 We have just bought four plots in Valldemossa where we want to build four private villas. I think Valldemossa has huge potential and these plots have breathtaking views of the village, so the sunsets are quite incredible. We start construction in October 2019. We want to build everything in the traditional style, employing local craftsmen who know what they’re doing. It’s nice that we can contribute to keeping the local craftmanship alive. This is another opportunity for us to create something we would love to live in. And that’s the kind of approach we like to apply to anything we do.

I know that you’re a mama to two beautiful children but also to two beautiful dogs. What’s your favourite thing to do in Mallorca with them?

We do a lot of hikes in the mountains. There’s so much to discover around here. The only problem is in summer, when the dogs are not allowed to go to 99% of the beaches. But we have our little secret spots, where we can all enjoy the water without disturbing anyone. We have two very energetic dogs so they need quite a lot of walking to get them tired. Sometimes six hours is just enough to wear them out (laughs).

Both of your dogs were rescued on the island and you also do a lot of volunteer work for animals. How can we all contribute to a better life for abandoned dogs in Mallorca?

I started walking dogs in the Natura Parc in December. I bring my friends there as well and try to help spread the word. When I started, there were about 70 dogs in this shelter. Now it’s down to 30 but every day there are more and it never seems to stop. There are different ways to help, including different organizations you can work with that find a foster or forever home for animals. You can also donate money, blankets, toys, food – anything helps. If anyone out there wants to donate something, I’ll be happy to help because I personally know the right people and I know they would give their life for these animals. I don’t expect everyone to donate this much, but even €50 makes a big difference in helping these animals survive, get health care and find a forever home. In this age of social media, information about different organizations is easily accessible and anyone who is interested can help. And most important: Don’t shop, please adopt!!!!

A dog’s life – in a good way

To book Casa Nama for your holiday, please get in touch with our rentals team at rentals@charlesmarlow.com to find out more about availability and pricing.

Restaurant Nama is open every day for lunch (from 13:00) and dinner. On Sundays you can also enjoy brunch. Sushi Bar Nama is open for dinner every day except on Thursday.  

You can find more information about opening hours and special events on www.restaurantnama.com or these Instagram pages: @namadeia and @sushibynamadeia and @namakase

 If you’d like to make a donation or find out more information about Natura Parc dog shelter, go to www.cepadfnp.wordpress.com

You’ll also find organisations like SOS veteranos G, Mallorca tierrettung or Feliz Animal on Facebook.

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