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Things To Do

Introducing... The Lost Wanderer

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Sometimes you can get a good feeling about a space the moment you walk in, and The Lost Wanderer is exactly that sort of place. This new café-bar on Leazes Park Road opened at the beginning of 2023 and is already becoming an essential destination for people wanting a quiet pint or somewhere to work with good coffee. We spoke to Charlotte and Richard Foster about the new venture, which has seen a family home (and company offices) transform into a cosy, welcoming bar.

Richard decided in the summer of last year to make a big life change and begin the bar project in what was both his house and the location of his former business. He had no hospitality experience so he brought in Oliver Miller, who’d run some local bars, along with an old friend Dan Norris to help with the running and sharing the new venture pressures. From the outset, Richard was very clear what his vision for the place was. “He knew how it was going to look in his head” Charlotte added “and although we’ve added bits and bobs as we’ve gone along, the overall feel is what was wanted and how we’d hope people to enjoy it”.

The four of them as a group had a clear idea about the feel of the place too. “We’re going for the European café-bar feel, for a slightly different crowd.” explains Charlotte. “It’s quite blokey round here and it was important for us to have somewhere that felt safe for women and families along with the usual crowd. We’re getting groups of women coming in, which is brilliant – it’s what we want. It’s normally couples and people who just want to chill, though we expect next year’s students to discover us and enjoy the place too. A cosiness, a personal touch with people knowing the story behind the place…”

“I’d always wanted it to be different to anything else in the city and more of a community café-bar rather than a city centre pub.” Richard adds. The name is Richard’s as well – capturing his recent change from a previous fast-paced approach to a laidback, wanderlust approach to life!

Obviously being so close to St James’ Park, there’s a strong football contingent in the area on match days but The Lost Wanderer is offering something a little different. “We’re busy on match days, but it was very important to create something different to the local match day pubs.” says Richard. “We get a lot of women and families, dads and their young lads. It’s very chilled. And people know when they come in that it’s a safe, friendly environment, even when we’re packed to the rafters!” There are also plans to add live football screenings on the TV for match days.

The Lost Wanderer keeps long hours – 7.30am till 11pm on weekdays, 9.30am till 11pm on Saturdays, 11.30am till 8pm on Sundays – which helps get the most use from the bar and means they can cater to different sorts of customers throughout the day. The free WiFi and coffee refills make it a great place for people to work in the daytime and there are pastries and sweet treats from Big River Bakery and Big Boy Brownies. And they offer pizzas too. “We wanted to use proven, quality local suppliers, that’s important to us, but we don’t have a kitchen and we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel,” Richard explains. “For the pizzas, customers can order at the bar, and we order them from Firestone, they’re literally down the road. It works really well - people come in for a drink but want to eat and now they can order in. And they’re really nice artisan pizzas.” They’re keen that their drinks offerings are top notch too – well chosen beers and spirits and good coffee!

To add to the welcoming, community feel, The Lost Wanderer is keen to invite groups to use the space. “We’ve got a dog group that comes in, and we’re super dog-friendly! I pushed that because it’s my area!” Charlotte says. “We have runners, swimmers, different interest groups needing somewhere to meet up. The dog meet-ups are great. And you’re welcome to come along even if you just wish you had a dog. Last time, we had a dachshund gathering, there were about forty little dogs here given free run of the place. Our own dachshund comes in with us most days, people love her!”

There’s even live music on Sundays in the cosy upstairs room. “We’ve got a local promoter who does it all, they book new local acts – singer-songwriters, nice and chilled. All free of course.”

There are lovely personal touches throughout The Lost Wanderer – the décor, the jukeboxes, the free book exchange – that make it clear this place is a labour of love and a personal vision. There are plans to make the upstairs space more suitable for private hire for events, and there’s even a tattoo studio at the top of the building that is rented by artists! Charlotte admits it’s been quite a learning curve. “It’s just completely different from what we’re used to but we’ve picked things up pretty fast really. We’re doing well!”

The Lost Wanderer is doing everything right – good food and drink, a friendly environment, lots of initiatives to keep things interesting and community-focussed – and it deserves to do really well. So next time you’re in the Leazes end of the city and you fancy a pint or a coffee and a warm and friendly space, you know where to head.

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