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‘Beyoncé and Jay-Z took over the bar one night’: cocktail legend Mr Lyan on the home of his first bar

Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, explains why Hoxton Street ‘feels like home’

Isabelle Aron
Written by
Isabelle Aron

I opened White Lyan, my first bar, on Hoxton Street in 2013. The street felt like a hidden gem. It was a huge moment in my career. I’ve got tons of memories there. Beyoncé and Jay-Z took over the bar one night. I got off the red-eye from New York to 200 missed calls. I thought the bar had burned down.

Another time, we’d been talking about who we’d really want to see live. I said Björk and, that evening, Björk came into the bar. I was dumbfounded. I got her drinks and she was doing karaoke on ‘Heads Up’. It was wonderfully bizarre. A few days later, her assistant called to say Björk wanted to DJ at the bar. She ended up DJing our birthday party. It was surreal and amazing.

The space was White Lyan for four years and then it became [zero-waste bar and restaurant] Cub. People would tell us it was the best meal they’d ever had. Hoxton Street is unassuming, so people would seek us out, which made it feel more special.

Cub was a Covid casualty. I was gutted to lose it. It felt important. But the space is now the home of our agency, Mr Lyan Studio. The Mr Lyan brand has been on Hoxton Street for so long. It feels like home.

Read more from this series:

Yotam Ottolenghi reminisces about his training at Le Cordon Bleu in Marylebone.

Designer Yinka Ilori on growing up in Islington.

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