Conversations: Restauranteurs Layo and Zoe Paskin
20th August 2018
From international DJ, to being one-half of electronic music duo Layo & Bushwacka, to being nightclub owners, and now eclectic London restauranteurs; it’s safe to say that brother and sister pair Layo Paskin and Zoe Paskin are accustomed to taking the road less travelled - both in business and in life.
Layo and Zoe’s seemingly unpredictable, (yet undeniably effective) outlook is the same exact approach they have taken with their foray into the restaurant world. Since 2014, Layo and Zoe have opened The Palomar, The Barbary, and Jacob the Angel, in just three short years. Their most recent opening, The Blue Posts, is a three-story public/private members club pub hybrid, just a couple of doors from The Palomar. It is a wonderfully creative space that combines traditional pub-grub, cocktails, and an intimate basement restaurant.
In conversation with Layo and Zoe, we discover how these multi-faceted London creatives have found themselves at the forefront of one of the city’s most exciting small restaurant groups. We chat about the neighbourhoods close to their hearts, eureka moments, and how this partnership was brought about, almost serendipitously, by a shared love for good food, at a booze-filled lunch in Jerusalem.
Could you please give us a quick intro to you and your business?
Zoe Paskin (Managing Director), Layo Paskin (Creative Director)
Zoe and I began working together when she joined me at The End and AKA after living in Barcelona. We sold those two businesses in 2009, and I continued my career as part of Layo & Bushwacka until 2013. After that, we opened The Palomar
in 2014, followed by The Barbary
in 2016, and then an English coffee house called Jacob the Angel
in 2017. This year, we opened The Blue Posts
. It’s a three story building, which is kind of like a public private members club. It has a pub on the ground floor, a restaurant in the cellar called Evelyn’s Table,
and a salon bar on the first floor called The Mulwray.
What was the spark or ‘eureka’ moment where the idea for your business came from?
Zoe: I think it’s different with each project. After The End & AKA, we knew that we wanted to open a restaurant. We spent some time together in Jerusalem where Layo was performing, and returned to a restaurant that we really liked and had visited on a few occasions. That lunch was really the beginning of what soon became The Palomar. Both Jacob the Angel and The Blue Posts came about by virtue of being adjacent to The Barbary and The Palomar respectively. So, the opportunity and the location have informed how they have been created and curated by us.
Ideas do have that Eureka moment, but how these businesses work with the public once they are actually out in the world can differ a lot. Some things can be a hit immediately, even if they arrive in not-so-perfect form, while others are ahead of the curve. It takes a while to fully appreciate what has been created and letting the public understand it as you do, and then connecting with it in turn. Have the places and spaces you’ve worked and socialised in played a part in influencing / adding to your ideas?
Being Londoners, our experience of the city has definitely changed over the years. Our own tastes have matured with time; and this has certainly influenced the type of things that we wanted to create and what they were about. I think we have a much greater chance of capturing the public by being connected to the place we are creating.
How do you push the boundaries and try to be ‘less ordinary’?
Layo: I think it starts with not accepting the norm and knowing that everything can be improved. Being open minded, self-critical, aware and respectful of the competition, then looking out across the world at how different cultures do similar things. Aim to learn the craft at every level that you are trying to work in. Because it’s only by understanding and respecting the foundations, that you can then push the boundaries. As the years go by, you also see ways to cross different aspects of what you have learned throughout the journey.
What is it about London that you love the most that motivates your creativity?
Zoe: The diversity, open-mindedness, history, and the fact that it is a city full of green spaces.
Is there a neighbourhood in London that you feel a real connection to? If so, where, and why is that?
Check out our other Conversations
My three main neighbourhoods in London are where I have spent the most time in my life. Let’s start with Hampstead Heath. My grandma was born in Camden and my grandfather in Hoxton, and then they lived together in Highgate. Both my father and I were born in that house.
Soho is also one of my main neighbourhoods. I have been going to Soho since I was fourteen and I have worked in and around it for most of my life; from record shops to Shebeens, restaurants to private members clubs. All of the businesses I’ve worked on have either been there or in Covent Garden. The End/AKA, End recordings, Olmeto, The Palomar, The Barbary, Jacob the Angel, and The Blue Posts are all around that area.
I have lived in London Fields for eleven years now, and I love the area. The park itself is like a festival every summer weekend. Broadway Market, the bakeries, bookshops, restaurants, and pubs — every week feels like something is new.
What trusted ‘less ordinary’ place in London do you find yourself going back to time and time again? ?
I love Bistrotheque
in E2, and Asakusa which is Japanese in NW1. These places never change and the food just gets better.
Which ‘less ordinary’ B&Bs, hotels or apartments have you uncovered that you love in other cities you travel to?
We'd have to say the Hotel Unique
in Sao Paolo and The Dewberry
Interview by Hannah Tan-Gillies