Favourite Things: Experience is everything in manager Nick’s trade

Nick Lyons, manager of Swanky Franks Diner, outside Cubana, Leopold Square, which is one of his favourite things in Sheffield. Andrew Roe
Nick Lyons, manager of Swanky Franks Diner, outside Cubana, Leopold Square, which is one of his favourite things in Sheffield. Andrew Roe

Few people have had as much experience of Sheffield’s evening economy as Nick Lyons. At 26 years old, the CV of the new manager of Swanky Franks diner on Woodseats reads like a who’s who of Steel City nightlife. Nick, who lives in Totley, first started at Menzels on Ecclesall Road as a 16-year-old glass collector. At 18 he moved to the glitzy Bar 23 in West One in the Devonshire Quarter before spending time at the nearby Bowery, Popolos in Leopold Square, Abuelo on Ecclesall Road and Alibi on Trippet Lane. One of his biggest challenges was as assistant manager of The Viper Rooms on Carver Street - a place that rarely shut before the early hours of the morning. Nick is keen to ensure Swanky Franks is the most authentic American experience in the region and has already helped overhaul the menu and extend the range of imported US beers.

Tramlines Festival

I was lucky enough to work at the first ever festival. The Bowery Bar, owned by members of the Arctic Monkeys, was the social hub of the event and that’s where I was for the duration. It was intense but great fun.

There was such an amazing buzz in the city and I remember watching a great performance by Toddla T. Devonshire Street reminded me of the main street in Magaluf - it really was that lively!

Millhouses Park

Taking the dog for a walk is normally my excuse to relax and recover after a hard week at work. There’s no better place to do it than Millhouses Park. There’s a great cafe, skate park and it’s a lovely place to take kids.

Kelham Island

I’ve now lived in this area twice. I really think it’s perfection. There’s everything you could ever ask for. It’s not too close or too far from the city centre which is in easy walking distance.

There’s great cafes like The Grind, restaurants like the Milestone and Craft & Dough and wonderful little shops. It boasts real ale pubs like The Fat Cat. It also has great transport links with the Supertram stop nearby.

There’s a really interesting blend of stunning Victorian industrial architecture coupled with modern, urban living spaces. Writing this makes me want to return for a third time!

Cubana - Leopold Square

Cubana has truly come of age since it moved to a bigger, more central venue. They’ve somehow managed to retain the intimate feel of their former Trippet Lane venue while expanding across two floors.

There’s so much going on there now with far more live music, bigger acts and they’ve successfully relaunched the Salsa In The Square events on Bank Holidays. Cubana co-owner Adrian Bagnoli is also my boss at Swanky Franks and the move has been great for us; it has allowed us to have regular live music every first and third Tuesday of the month. I love Sheffield city centre’s independent scene and they really don’t come any better than Cubana.


The Woodseats area has slowly drawn me in as I’ve spent more time at Swanky Franks. There’s a great sense of community around here. I’m always impressed by how friendly and talkative everyone is - right down to the nice lady that makes me my sandwich at the nearby shop!

Alibi bar

I’ve enjoyed everywhere I’ve worked over the years but the fun I had working at Alibi on Trippet Lane took some beating. I was really sad when it shut.

The venue occupied the building that is now Maggie Mays. We used to have such a great time working there and I remember, when I’d got a break, I’d get to nip across the road to Cubana to relax.

I’ve always been lucky enough to work in some of Sheffield’s best independent outlets where everyone knows each other. There really is a great community of like minded individuals that help make the after dark scene what it is today.

Grand Old Ukes of


This is a Sheffield act that always brings a smile to my face. They started as a team building company and I’ve seen them perform at the Great Gatsby and a number of random places scattered around the city. They play songs spanning ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ to covers of Bewitched. They really are worth making a date with if you haven’t already.

Ju-Jitsu in Dronfield

I used to do a lot of karate and got to three belts away from my black belt. These days I prefer Ju-Jitsu. I do it with a group that practice in Dronfield Scout Hut. They’re very lovely people that I do it with. They’re not aggressive at all. Think that’ s why I like it!