It’s been a big month for Lucien Laviscount—and not just because the press tour for Emily In Paris season three is in full swing.
The actor has actually just opened a ‘five star dive bar’ in London, The Wealthy Beggar, in partnership with restaurateur Zac Lichman, offering up an intimate venue to enjoy Pan-Asian tapas, cocktails, and more.
But it’s not their first rodeo.
Having known each other for ten years, the pair first decided to enter the world of hospitality together in 2018 with The Shop—a cafe by day and a bar by night.
“For any launch, there is a large operational setup involved followed by a lot of fine-tuning to ensure that things are just right,” says Lichman. “It makes the difference between an empty bar and restaurant and a thriving, attractive venue.”
Financially, they found their first venture extremely challenging. The Shop didn’t secure a sizeable investment, and the site they’d chosen—in north-west London’s Kensal Rise—was rife with maintenance issues from the start.
“It is a test of connections and characters,” he says. “People made it happen—whether it be builders or staff members going the extra mile. Lessons we learnt. In a local venue with under 40 covers, you have to work hard to protect your profit in a business and you have to keep reinvesting and maintaining.”
Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit in 2020, The Shop’s fate was sealed. It was going to be impossible to keep the venue on its feet.
“Still, The Shop was a good reflection of the vibe that we are as operators and as a group of people,” says Laviscount. “We are all creatives with an underlying approach to life to give back. Good people attract good people.”
Undeterred, the pair took their lessons learned and started thinking about their return to the high street. Despite its problems, The Shop had become a venue loved by locals. A real community space. And they wanted more.
Today, The Wealthy Beggar is just a few doors down from where The Shop once stood.
“Kensal Rise is a very unique place in London,” says Laviscount. “There is a huge community vibe. It’s very normal to walk into a bar as an individual or a family and just have a great chat, connect. See how the evening plays out.”
These ideologies are engrained in The Wealthy Beggar’s DNA.
Open all day from Tuesday through Saturday, guests can enjoy seasonal bar bites (created by head chef Gareth Drew, formerly of Nobu London and Buddha Bar) and cocktails at their leisure, including Wagyu tartare with truf le miso; whipped foie gras, yuzu and caviar’ and Kombu Jimmy spiced lamb, wiith umeboshi, honey and ponzu.
All of which gives you more than enough reason to visit, in addition to a growing number of unique events.
“There are a lot of ideas flying around,” Laviscount admits. “Currently with the new launch, Christmas and the World Cup coinciding we do have our hands full, but we’re excited about 2023 and the projects we can get stuck into.”
These early-days ideas include an event program curated by Don Letts (British film director, DJ and musician), including live music performances every Wednesday, regular quiz nights, a philanthropic initiative, and a full-service recording studio.
“Recording studios are very much in demand. We are now in the era of everyone being able to record our own version of life,” Laviscoount continues.
“We work with a lot of people with established podcasts and there are many musicians in the area. We had the space, so we’re excited to do this and to see what comes of it!”
“The Wealthy Beggar encapsulates our way of thinking. Without a rich heart wealth is an ugly beggar.”
This time, the business was also funded privately as much as possible.
“In our experience, unless you are all on the same page and as equality dedicated then disparity arises,” says Lichman. “The beauty of our long-standing connections is that, where necessary, people will just get involved and work for free to make experiences happen.”
While everyone interviewed agreed that The Wealthy Beggar is a team effort, they also describe Lichman as the catalyst, the initiator, the driving force and the glue. Which he exemplifies.
“We want a thriving venue and multiple others! Perhaps on a beach next time,” he quips.
“Really, we just want The Wealthy Beggar community to grow and grow and help and serve others—with food and drink and good times!”