Interview with Shelagh Ryan and Michael Homan – Founders of Lantana Cafe
This week we caught up with Shelagh Ryan and Michael Homan – Founders of Lantana Cafe.
We have been to Lantana and absolutely love the food, for those that haven’t been, can you tell us how Lantana started?
(S): Neither Michael nor I started life as restaurateurs but we saw a great opportunity in London twelve years ago to transport Australian style cafés to London. Michael is married to my sister Caitlin and ever since they moved to London in the late 90s, they lamented the lack of good coffee and cafe culture in London which Australia is renowned for. I’m really close to my siblings and we are all passionate about food and hospitality, so had often spoken about opening a restaurant together.
I was living in Melbourne, one of the food capitals of the world, and was constantly inspired by the amazing cafes and restaurants there. We decided that if we were going to open a restaurant, London was the place to do it, so I packed up my life in Melbourne and moved to London to open Lantana in 2008. Our aim was to transport a Melbourne café to London. The key ingredients of Lantana are excellent coffee, simple and delicious food with an Australian twist, and warm, friendly service.
What are your favourite dishes?
(S): Oh that is really difficult as I develop the menus so they are all my favourite dishes! It depends on my mood and the time of day; for brunch I love the courgette cheddar bread with sweet corn salsa, chipotle sour cream, harissa and grilled haloumi. For lunch I find it hard to go past the Nasi goreng with kimchi which is served with an incredibly addictive home-made sambal. For a snack, the cauliflower cheese croquettes with aioli are pretty damn tasty.
Do you have anything exciting you can spill the beans on?
(M): We have a few things in the pipeline for this year and early next year which will be revealed soon. I’m superstitious so don’t want to jinx anything by revealing too much! But I can reveal that we have two new things going on in Fitzrovia. Firstly, we are the in-house caterer for Boston Consulting Group in their new headquarters at 80 Charlotte St. When it is full there, will be up to 1,000 people on site. They wanted a creative, independent restaurant operator and we were up for the challenge of bringing restaurant hospitality to an office. Secondly, in the same building we are partnering with the landlord, Derwent London, to operate a new coffee shop at 78 Charlotte Street, which will also provide food to the people using Derwent’s fabulous new co-working facility. They are calling it DL78 and it is adjacent to the Lantana coffee shop. These two new projects complement our office catering proposition.
Best piece of advice you have been given?
(M): Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone as that means you are challenging yourself.
Other than brunching at Lantana of course, where else do you go to tuck into good healthy food?
(S): I grew up in Brisbane and whenever I go back for a visit, my first stop is to my favourite cafe https://www.morningafter.com.au which has really interesting and delicious breakfast bowls and fresh juices. There is also a bakery/ restaurant in a tiny town outside Byron Bay called Harvest www.harvest.com.au which would have to be my favourite place in the world to eat as it serves the most incredibly fresh, seasonal local produce and they bake their own wood fired sourdough. In London, I have lots of favourites but for healthy salads and a relaxing spot to sit, Jacob the Angel in Covent Garden is lovely. Sadly, they are closed at the moment but I hope it reopens soon!
If you had a free day in London to do what you want, where would you go?
(S): I always cycle around London so if the weather is good, I’d cycle over to the Tate Modern, stopping for a coffee at Monmouth in Borough market on the way and then I’d cycle back to Shoreditch for some lunch at Rochelle Canteen before taking a little stroll along Redchurch Street for some post lunch retail therapy.