'Dyls' Changes Hands After 12 Years


The popular York business has been sold to another local cafe owner.

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Image by @dyls_york

By Daisy Couture

On Sunday 21 April, Dyls cafe threw a party in the park to celebrate the end of its current ownership. The  ‘Last Dance’ ran from 4pm–late and involved free Cresci’s pizza, live music and 10% off drinks.

Dyls is a cafe and bar situated in a Grade II-listed bridge motor house on Skeldergate Bridge with four quirky rooms and a terrace overlooking the River Ouse. Jan Dyl opened the cafe in 2012 along with family members, and the business has been in their hands up until now.

On 10 April, Jan announced via an Instagram post that this 12 year period was coming to an end.

In the caption, he said: “After 12 of the best years here at Dyls, the time has come for us to move on and embark on a new and exciting venture!”

“Making the decision to sell Dyls has been one of the toughest we’ve made. Years of dedication, hard work, and striving to be the best we possibly can has taken its toll, and we feel it’s time to let someone with new ideas and inspiration continue its legacy, which we know many of you have grown to love.”

In the build-up to the party in the park, more Instagram content was posted. Jan promised followers that the business was going to “go out with a bang” and said that it would be “lovely to see as many faces down here as possible, we can’t wait!”

The ‘Last Dance’ was a success, with lots of customers in attendance. The terrace was full and many took over the lawns outside of the cafe. Due to the excessive (and unprecedented) numbers, this meant that there was not enough Cresci’s pizza for everyone; however, Jan acknowledged this and apologised in an Instagram post following the event.

The party featured live music from Benjamin Beattie, Will Dreyfus and Rupert Engledow, as well as a DJ set from Kodi Kooch. In addition to the free pizza, Dyls offered a 10% discount on all of their beverages for the entire night. People were encouraged to bring their own chairs, glassware and many brought their own food and drinks to sit outside with.

Dyls was first put on the market 15 months ago and received offers exceeding £250,000. Jan told The York Press that he would miss running the cafe when the time came for handover.

He said: “There isn’t a building like this in York - a cafe bar over four floors, in an old motor house, with four completely different rooms with beautiful river views - and the best sunsets in York.”

“I will be really sad to give it up and I’d like to make sure I pass it on to the right people so I can continue to come back in the years to come!”

Dyls will be handed over to Sophie Knight, owner of SOPHiE’s cafe on Lendal Bridge. She has agreed to take over the business with the help of her parents, Stuart and Nicky Knight, who ran the Mallyan Spout hotel in Goathland for 20 years. The handover was initially meant to take place on 30 May, but was pushed back to the week commencing 6 May due to unforeseen circumstances.

Sophie has been running her cafe, similarly situated in a former toll house on Lendal Bridge, for three years. They currently host ‘Fizz and Fondue’ evenings and ‘The Cake & Cocktail Book Club’.

Stuart Knight told The York Press that the takeover was an “exciting opportunity”, claiming that “because it is a successful business we want to continue along the same lines.”

Sophie expressed that she had been wanting to expand her business into a second site for a while, and that Dyls seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.

She said: “[SOPHiE’s] is open from 10am-5pm - 6 or 7pm on a Saturday and sells coffee and cocktails. Dyls is open into the evening. It is bigger than us, and has a larger outdoor area. We are like a baby version of them!”

She added: “It is very, very big shoes to fill. Dyls has a very good reputation and is very well established. The saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Jan has similarly reassured customers that not many changes will take place to the cafe, apart from the name - it will be renamed ‘SOPHiE on Skeldergate’.

He commented: “The staff are staying and keeping the same roles. It will be the same food, drinks, and friendly faces. It’s not going to be too different.”