Missy Flynn is the co-founder of London restaurant Rita’s – a brand which began life in residency at iconic Dalston nightclub Birthdays in the early 2010s, evolved to its first permanent premises on Mare Street in Hackney by late 2013, before moving through various iterations and evolutions, including as a sandwich shop in King’s Cross, and a deli/bodega in Farringdon over the course of the last five years. Then, in 2021, Rita’s reached what felt like a state of maturation, when with her partner – the chef Gabriel Pryce – Flynn opened the most current version of the restaurant on Soho’s Lexington Street.
This restaurant was born and planned through the two years of COVID-19 and the lockdowns that came with it. Whether it’s because of that, and because Flynn and Pryce had to take their time, or if it’s because Rita’s had been through so many experiments already, the restaurant now feels fully formed and is thriving in its central London home. It’s become a bistro for the the fashion and music crowds, while still serving Soho locals and the hospitality community that Flynn has grown up with, to whom she has remained connected ever since her days as a waiter at Hawksmoor in Covent Garden at the end of the 2000s.
Rita’s is boutique, punk, cool, taking influences from cities like New York and Mexico City as much as the place of its birth: It’s a restaurant that reflects perfectly the daring, unconventional and exciting impulses of Flynn and her contemporaries who have been at hospitality’s avant-garde since after the financial crash of 2008.
Below, get to know Flynn as she shares some of her most important possessions and what they mean to her.
‘Adios mi amor’ knife
It’s always lying around the house, wherever Gabe [Pryce] – my partner – and I end up living. I think it was a gift to him but I then took it back because I love it so much. It says on it “Adios mi amor,” which is “goodbye my love.”
I think it’s quite sinister and really romantic at the same time and I like seeing it.
Rita’s guest book , 2016
This pink book was put out on the bar in the week of our restaurant Rita’s on Mare Street closing in 2016 and it was a choice that we made to try and capture some of the messages, not knowing if we would ever have a restaurant ever again, or if Rita’s would ever exist in any way.
It was all quite raw and quite emotional.
A lot of those people that wrote in that book then, still dine with us now.
But it’s just an amazing snapshot, first of all for us to remember what we did at that restaurant and also just as a moment in dining history in London – how everyone was so excited about the restaurant and cared so much about it; and for us, as people, it’s very touching to read and the kind of thing I think I’ll keep for my whole life.
Painting of me
An oil painting of me very good friend of mine Lucy Luscombe. It’s a quite recent gift, for my birthday this year. And as I’m told, from her and other people, it had a lot of versions.
First of all I think it’s pretty good. Second of all, it’s pretty hilarious.
Me in a bonnet with a gilda (the Basque pintxo of olive, anchovy, and guindilla) stuck in the side and then there’s an egg on the side of the painting and it says ‘Canapé Core’ – and it’s completely mental and amazing that someone would take time to make that for me but also no surprise at all that the only person that could do it is this particular friend.
Red claywork by Cameron Flynn
[My brother] told me it’s a candlestick [holder] but it’s not immediately clear where a candle can go so I’ve managed to find these tiny candles that fit propped up alongside it. The reason I like it is not, unsurprisingly, for its practicality as a candlestick holder, but because it fits in my hand basically perfectly, almost like it’s made by my hands and it’s a really nice connective thing to have with my brother, who I guess is my hand twin.
It’s a really odd to-look-at shape, that somehow in my hands feels really natural and really easy to grasp.
Ceramic cup by Francisco Martinez
This is from a set by a ceramicist in Oaxaca, Mexico that I was able to visit some time ago.
It was the first time I’d been to see ceramics in Oaxaca, and was able to buy directly from the maker, and to see a smallscale family production.
I just love the anatomical heart emblem and I like to drink out of them, the texture of them, and I also like the memories of that time.
I don’t get to cook with my grandma very often. It’s a bit of a cliche, but obviously I’m lucky to have grandparents at my age. I feel guilty that I don’t get to see her so often.
But her cooking for me is extremely comforting and I’m able to throw a bit of garam masala onto everything because it works with everything. It’s a nice way of feeling connected to my grandma.
The Kitchen Book by Terence Conran
Gift given to me by someone who clearly knows me very well.
Kind of like a kitchen compendium broken down into really niche and small topics, like storage or lighting, but then also things like ergonomics, and usability of the kitchen and actually it’s for a domestic setting but it’s been really useful as a reference for our restaurant spaces but also our living spaces too.
An amazing archive of Conran design and kitchen design more broadly.
The Financial Times
I like to buy this newspaper every weekend, typically on a Sunday as I’m working on a Saturday, and then it becomes a kind of marker of how much time I take for myself to read it.
My ideal would be to read the whole thing cover-to-cover, including all the supplements, every week and I can never quite get there, but my end goal is to work out how to take enough time off my phone, off work, not on a screen, to be able to read the entire paper in one weekend from start to finish. And until then I keep buying it for £5 every Sunday and stacking them up and holding onto them, like relics of time, until I can find the discipline to do that.
Photography by Michaël Protin.