On perusing the excellent children’s book This is London by M. Sasek, readers encounter on page 38 a mention that there “is always time for a cup of tea.” The next page then shows a drawing of a London street scene with the J. Lyons Tea Room featured.
First, a bit about Sasek’s This is London. The book, published in 1959, was one of many in a series of hip sketches of major cities by the Czechoslovakian artist (1916-1980). Sasek had the unerring ability to pounce on the essence of a place, making the drawings approachable to children, but hip enough for parents to be entertained. So it is fitting that Lyons is in the book; it’s an icon, to use an overused word.
Brits of a certain age love J. Lyons. And they are still missing the Lyons Tea Room and Lyons Corner House. Lyons, founded in 1894, disappeared in 1981, though it had a short, unsuccessful revival. Nothing has replaced it. Starbucks just doesn’t cut it. A great history of the design is can be found by clicking here.
Lyons is important. Margaret Thatcher worked at Lyons. Lyons owned the Strand Hotel. Pieces of the empire are still around; even Wimpy hamburgers was part of the empire.
It got BrandlandUSA thinking. J.Lyons needs to return. Not just a fussy tea room, but a decent place where tourists and Londoners can get a decent cup of tea, some ice cream and sweats, and some light sandwiches. Open it up in a London department store. Open one up at Heathrow. Put it somewhere. But bring it back.