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Founder of the Mickey's Diner restaurant chain dies from Covid

The businessman who founded the Mickey's Diner restaurant off Blue Bell Hill in Aylesford has died after contracting coronavirus.

Michael (Mickey) Schembri was only 62 when he passed away on December 30.

Michael Schembri, founder of Mickey's Diner
Michael Schembri, founder of Mickey's Diner

Mr Schembri had a torrid last few months to an otherwise rich and fulfilling life.

In November last year he had an accident at home when he was using an angle grinder; the blade slipped and severely lacerated his arm.

As a result he was put on antibiotics, but Mr Schembri had a violent reaction to one of the drugs that affected his liver, necessitating a week's stay in St Thomas's Hospital in London.

While there he contracted Covid, but he appeared to be asymptomatic. He was discharged and allowed home for Christmas.

Mr Schembri lived with his daughter Charlotte and her partner in a home close to the restaurant on Blue Bell Hill.

The popular diner off the A229
The popular diner off the A229

But on Christmas Day, Mr Schembri became ill, and was rushed to Maidstone Hospital.
His daughter said: "We thought it was a problem with his liver again, but it turned out to be the Covid."

She spoke to him by Facetime on the morning of his death. She said: "He seemed happy and was looking better than he had for several days."

Shortly after, he deteriorated and died.

Miss Schembri said: "It was so sudden! It's been a terrible time!"

Mr Schembri, originally from Malta, moved to this country around 40 years ago, and had been involved in the catering industry ever since.

At various times he owned Weavers restaurant in St Faith's Street in Maidstone, the Britannic Fish Bar in Gabriel's Hill and The Wine Bar in Tonbridge.

He founded Mickey's Diner on Blue Bell Hill in 2006, but although he retained the freehold to the premises, he had sold the business interest to his long-time manager Adriano Santos three years ago.

At the time of his death, he still owned Mickey's Rock Cafe on the A249 at Detling.

Miss Schembri said: "He was genuinely the most loving, generous and kind person you could ever meet.

"He would always do anything to help others - and he was always looking for his next business venture!

"They broke the mould after they made him."

In his spare time, Mr Schembri liked to dabble in antiques and also to restore classic cars.

Mr Schembri will be cremated tomorrow in a direct cremation without a service.

His daughter said: "We know so many people would want to attend, it wouldn't seem right to go ahead with a service during the Covid lockdown when numbers have to be limited.

"We will hold a service of remembrance later when everyone can come."

Mr Schembri had separated from Charlotte's mother, Jan Williams, many years ago, but the two remained close.
He was also close to her other children Hannah and Chris Jheeta.

Mr Schembri leaves four children in Malta - Oliver, Karen, Joseph and Vanessa, and had another daughter Maria (Chapman), who came with him to England and who is now living in Tunbridge Wells.

Mrs Chapman said: "He was always my hero and my own children, Tia and Ziggy adored him."

Mr Schembri is survived by 11 grandchildren.

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