One of London’s most-loved Turkish Cypriot restaurants has closed its doors after seven years in east London. Oklava, founded by chef Selin Kiazim and restaurateur Laura Christie in 2015, ceased trading on 10 January.
Announcing the end of its life, the co-founders said that “we’ve let the fire down and swept up the ashes from our mangal for the last time.”
“It’s been an honour to cook for and serve all of you and share our love and passion for hospitality through countless lahmacuns and şeftalis and the best damn hellim there is to be had.”
Kiazim further elaborated on the reasons for Oklava’s closure, which is likely to be one of many victims of the immediate crises facing restaurants, concerning energy and costs, running into the longer-term impacts of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scale of the challenge was too great for us in the end, the mountain too high. I hope things will change for our beloved industry and I hope that many restaurant doors in London and beyond will manage to stay open in the months to come.
During their time in the capital, Kiazim and Christie also opened Kyseri, a too-short-lived restaurant named for and inspired by the central Turkey region’s wheat-based manti and eriste. It was converted into Oklava Bakery, dedicated to pide, breads, and pastries, before being forced to close by the COVID-19 pandemic in summer 2020. Christie also ran the popular wine bar and restaurant Linden Stores, which closed in February 2020 when she moved out of London. It is now reestablished in Cheshire.