Fly Female Entrepreneur: La-Niece Lyew

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Photo Credit: Rayon Richards

As New York City’s shining star, Brooklyn has been receiving tons of attention surrounding the borough’s gentrification, escalating costs of living, and of course, its massive new resident, the Barclays Center. With all of these changes happening so rapidly, it’s refreshing to see a woman who is Brooklyn born and raised, opening up the doors to a new (and might I add gorgeous!) restaurant and lounge just minutes away from her childhood stomping grounds.

Meet the always calm, cool and collected La-Niece Lyew. As a wife, mother of 8-year-old twins and fly female entrepreneur, La-Niece definitely has her work cut out for her. She recently brought her entrepreneurial dreams to life with her newest venture, Milk River Lounge, so when asking how her day is going, “busy” is an understatement. As the borough’s newest hot spot, Milk River is nestled comfortably on Atlantic Avenue, steps away from the home of the Brooklyn Nets. What is it like to open a restaurant in one of the country’s most buzzed about cities while juggling an active family and personal life? Grab your beverage of choice, take a seat, and you’ll soon find out…

Photo Credit: Rayon Richards

In Her Shoes: Congrats on the opening of Milk River! What was the inspiration behind the name of your restaurant?

La-Niece: Milk River is a river in Jamaica where people go to relax, bathe and cure ailments. It’s a place where people unwind and gather in unity. We want Milk River guests to visit us for the same reasons…to get rid of any worries, enjoy a great meal and after a long day, simply let their hair down.

Photo Credit: Rayon Richards

In Her Shoes: Did you always dream of owning a restaurant or did it just happen organically?

La-Niece: My family has been cooking for generations. In fact, they cooked for the people who build the railroads in Jamaica. My mother is Black Jamaican and my dad is Chinese Jamaican so I’ve always been exposed to plenty of different cultures and foods. I was born and raised in Brooklyn so knowing that I wanted to make a career out of this, I attended the French Culinary Institute. I can honestly say that I’ve been blessed. I’m surrounded by people like my husband, Chef Phet Schwader, and many others who’ve helped me bring this dream to life. Some people are groupies for rappers and actors, but me? I’m a chef groupie!

Photo Credit: Rayon Richards

In Her Shoes: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far with Milk River?

La-Niece: Determining the distinction between friendships and business has been my biggest lesson to date. I like to laugh and have fun with the best of them but we have to make sure there’s also a balance between the work and personal relationships.

In Her Shoes: Tell us what a day is like in La-Neice Lyew’s shoes?

La-Niece: My day starts at 7 a.m. when I’m preparing my 8-year-old twins for their school day. After I get them off safely I run all of my personal and/or business errands for the day then I head to the restaurant. The first thing I do when I walk in the door is taste test menu items in the kitchen to make sure everything is up to par and determine if we need to adjust anything. Our guests start arriving around 5:00p when the bar opens and we begin serving food at 6:00p. Every night we have live music from 8:00-11:00p so I have the pleasure of enjoying great music while I work! Things start to pick up and we get busy around dinner time until the kitchen closes at 11:00p. I generally get home around 11:30p to relieve my nanny, handle all of my mommy/wife duties and prepare for the next day. At 7:00a we’re back at it again!

In Her Shoes: If you could prepare a meal for any celebrity or well-known person (past or present) who would it be?

La-Niece: I would have to say Bob Marley, Princess Diana and Jay Z. All of these people are huge in their respective industries and careers but they’ve remained extremely humble. They’re not about the “celebrity life” and I can totally relate to that. Jay Z is on this list of course because he’s from BK! I would prepare ackee, salt fish and oxtails for them…a true Caribbean meal!

In Her Shoes: Do you have any special holiday plans lined up for Milk River?

La-Niece: For Thanksgiving we’ll be partnering with a local school to award a complimentary family dinner to a child from each grade with the best report cards. I want the children in our community to know that we see them. We recognize their hard work and commitment to excellence and want to celebrate their successes!

Photo Credit: Rayon Richards

In Her Shoes: Any closing thoughts?

La-Niece: I just want to encourage women by letting them know that while you may not be able to quit your 9-5 today to launch your business, don’t throw in the towel and by all means, don’t settle. Life happens and as adults, we all have responsibilities. Be open to fulfilling your dreams on the side until you’re able to do it full time. No matter how you approach it, DO NOT give up!

To learn more about Milk River visit www.milkrivercafe.com and tell them In Her Shoes sent you!



As a New York City storyteller, filmmaker, digital content creator, and PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.

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