Founded by Rene and Ursula Salle over 28 years ago history, Ibiza restaurant La Oliva, set in the heart of the old town in Dalt Vila – is a gastronomic institution. The couple – hailing from France and Germany – fell in love with the location instantly when searching for a location to open a restaurant, and the rest, as they say, is history…
After six years of business, the couple welcomed a little girl into their family. Living in Dalt Vila, in the same street as the restaurant, their daughter Lisa spent her childhood running through the cobbled streets, playing, eating her dinner in La Oliva every night – it was just like home to her.
Fast-forward to 2014, and little Lisa is all grown up, having taken the reins from her parents and been managing all aspects of the business for the past four years, alongside her boyfriend head chef Marc-Antoine Colonna – from reservations and staff to accounts, décor and more – allowing Rene and Ursula more time to relax and enjoy life.
To be running an iconic, successful restaurant of this size at just 22 years old is practically unheard of in Ibiza, but to Lisa, it’s just a regular part of her everyday life. But she didn’t always see herself as the future of the family business – far from it! “I never, never wanted to work here!” she laughs, talking of her teenage years. “I thought I wanted to be a journalist. But when I was 15 I was horse riding a lot, and in order to enter a competition, my parents told me I needed to earn the money. So I worked in La Oliva for one month… and it was really hard for me, I was so shy you wouldn’t believe it.”
Hard to believe, given her friendly and bubbly personality today, where nothing is a problem and everyone is equally as important as the person next to them. So how did this go from it being a necessity to a passion? “When I met Marc-Antoine, we were both really motivated to get my parents to make some changes, starting with the colour of the chairs and then the wine list, then getting Marc-Antoine into the kitchen because he’d studied in all the best schools in France.”
“My mum trusted us both from the very first minute,” she says, of the transition from daughter to manager. “My dad… well, he liked to keep an eye on us for the first few years, but now he’s much more relaxed and only comes in once or twice a week. It makes me happy knowing they can relax now!”
Each year sees a new customer ‘click’ that Lisa is Rene and Ursula’s daughter running the restaurant, and many loyal clients remember her as a child. “It’s strange for me, because I don’t always know the people,” she says. “But they’ll ask me if I’m the daughter and when I say yes, they’ll tell me they saw me in my mum’s belly when she was pregnant! I always tell my parents who has been in the restaurant, and then they’ll tell me about other people who haven’t told me they know my parents, but then tell them they had a good experience.”
Now the shoe is on the other foot, Lisa says it can feel strange to Ursula and Rene – who know only too well how much hard work running a business like la Oliva can be – to see her working so much, when they are enjoying island life. “My mum encourages me to go out all the time – she has so much energy – but usually I can’t because I’m working, or tired… then she offers to come and work for me!”
Crediting her parents with teaching her the value of working hard for your money, always being kind to people, finishing what you start and being an example to others around you, Lisa says she definitely sees her future in La Oliva now, having developed a real passion for her work… but it doesn’t stop there! “I wish we could do more,” she says, with a sparkle in her eyes. “We have a lot of energy, a lot of ideas… we will see!”