Light Years reopens in Jonson Lane precinct with new head chef and Sarah Ellison interiors

WORDS: Jennifer Sacks PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

After closing the original venue in early October, Light Years Byron Bay has reopened in the new Jonson Lane precinct with expanded food and drink menus, and new head chef Joachim Borenius (ex Mjolner Sydney). Co-founders and restaurateurs Kim Stephen and James Sutherland have worked together with executive chef Robbie Oijvall and Borenius, as well as interior designer Sarah Ellison and Studio Plenty, on the change in location, menu and upgraded design. 

Co-owner Stephen said “Bringing on Joachim as head chef feels like the perfect step in the evolution of the Light Years brand – our expansion in size means a bigger kitchen, and greater capacity to create new and exciting dishes. The fresh perspective Joachim brings to the brand and his experience across a range of cuisines means that we can continue to produce punchy dishes in the bold Light Years style with new ingredients and flavours.”

The elevated new menu stays true to the classic and much-loved Light Years style of share plates tailored to group dining, with highlight dishes on the menu including: a prawn toast donut served with a yuzukoshu dipping sauce; salt and pepper tofu seasoned with szechuan pepper umami salt (vegan); hot and tingly BBQ lamb ribs; and honey king prawns with typhoon shelter crumbs (referring to a topping used by Hongkongese fishermen to serve with crab while taking shelter from typhoons). 

The new Light Years will also feature an expanded beverage menu that reflects their original use of tropical flavours that both complement and enhance the dishes. Old favourite ‘Netflix and Chill’ with popcorn infused rum, passionfruit and lemon will return, and new drinks include the Kiwi Matcha Margi with tequila,  kiwi puree, matcha syrup, and lime; and a Szechuan Sour (subtly flavoured yet strong enough for drinkers to experience its mouth numbing quality) with szechuan shiso infused gin, Aperol, vermouth, and orange.

Co-owner Sutherland said “We are so proud to be opening this new venue in the heart of Byron Bay, where our journey began, so that the community who helped us grow the brand can continue to be a part of its evolution.”

With that evolution comes custom designs by Sarah Ellison and Studio Plenty, who have created a space that is a departure from Light Years’ signature tropical style with a more refined, tonal palette. While the food and drink menus remain playful, the venue emulates the maturation of the brand. Will from Studio Plenty describes the rationality of the design – “our broad concept was informed by the sensibility and order of traditional Asian interiors; an exciting juxtaposition to the bubbly personality of the food, cocktails and wait staff”.

Sarah Ellison said of the design; “For creative direction of the interiors, we wanted to design a contemporary restaurant that felt at home in Byron Bay with an elevated and urban feel akin to a more metropolitan location. This allowed us to bring in all of the things we love about Byron; the warmth, the sun, some earthiness and a grounded ‘barefoot’ vibe that enhances the feeling of being on holiday, which we’ve been able to bring in through materiality and colour palettes.” 

Light Years will be open 7 days for dinner, with lunch service from Friday-Sunday. There is a private dining room available for hire as well as multiple areas suitable for entertaining large groups, and dog friendly seating on outside tables. Onsite parking is available 2 levels underground, and is free for the first 2 hours.