Riza Es is the manager and part-owner of ReynA restaurant, a Turkish restaurant in Lewisham. Originally from Tunceli, eastern Turkey, the 33-year-old takes charge of a place which promises diners a traditional Mediterranean meal.
Es, from New Cross Gate, came to the UK six years ago though he only opened his restaurant in April. Prior to setting the restaurant up, he was a travel agent and worked in the tourism industry after coming here as a student. “I was running my business here but after 12 years [in tourism], I got bored and decided to do something different. I wanted to try a different job,” he said, “I always wanted this kind of business.”
Es is Kurdish and evidently proud of his heritage explaining that his family speaks Kurdish at home and that it is his first language. Before moving to England, he lived in Istanbul for 15 years and though he has siblings in France, Germany and Turkey, only some of his childhood friends live in New Cross.
ReynA, which means ‘come again’ in Zazaki, a Kurdish dialect, is at the corner of New Cross road and Pagnell street. Unlike many places in the area, the restaurant can accommodate large groups. The restaurant’s downstairs will soon be renovated and Es hopes in six months they can host large parties and occasions. “I believe ReynA is a unique place. There aren’t many places like this; it’s hard to go somewhere nice and comfy,” he said of the 80-seater restaurant.
Currently the restaurant offers salsa and kizomba classes every Tuesday from 7.30pm onwards. Es hopes to host Turkish-themed nights on Saturdays with belly-dancing from early December to accompany the restaurant’s traditional Turkish food. Main courses provided include dolma, lahmacun, iskender and cold and hot mezes.
Angela Phillips, a lecturer at Goldsmiths College, dropped in last week and said: “The food came fast and was very good. You could taste the good quality olive oil on the Hummus and the liver and onion hot meze was really outstanding. This is as far away from the common or garden kebab shop as the equally yummy London Particular is from the Goldsmiths canteen.”
Es is a determined individual who takes pleasure in his work: “I am enjoying it even though it’s been hard. It’s just like a baby. We’re crawling now, but we just need some more time to establish everything.”
ReynA can be found at: 379-383 New Cross Road, SE14 6AT
Opening hours: 12pm- 11pm Mon to Sat (12pm-10pm on Sundays)
To book, call: 020 8692 1263