On a rainy Saturday night in South End, the line to get inside Lost & Found stretches down the street. It’s the hottest bar in Charlotte right now.
Six weeks ago, Lost & Found opened in South End. It’s located in a new development near Seoul Food and Hoppin’.
“A lot of people will go out in South End until midnight and then head Uptown for the rest of the night,” explains owner Orlando Botero. “We want people to stay here.”
And that’s exactly what’s happening.
“We are far exceeding our goals,” says Botero. “We’ve signed up over 4,000 members in a little over a month in a place that holds around 240 people.”
It’s the atmosphere.
Botero is quick to point out Lost & Found is not a nightclub. Although it borrows some club scene elements — like VIP table reservations after 10 p.m. and table-side cocktail service — he describes it as an “elevated neighborhood bar.” There is no cover charge to get inside.
Unlike many bars, Lost & Found features a feminine design that includes greenery walls, flowers, pink velvet couches, a huge full-length mirror in the bathroom, and even a “No boys allowed” neon sign.
It’s a strategically Instagrammable space, and while sports might be playing on a big screen, you’ll never feel like you’re at a rowdy sports bar.
Lost & Found offers 23 specialty cocktails, including White Claw spritzes, mules, and martinis, made with house simple syrup infusions. They don’t do traditional club-like bottle service, but if you do buy a bottle for your table, a bartender will bring ingredients over to your table to make cocktails for you.
“It makes for a great time with people who just want to party and have a great night together,” said Britney who was waiting in line Saturday night. “It’s all about who you surround yourself with. My friend group always seems to meet new people every time we are here. It’s just awesome. That’s what it’s all about when you’re with your people just having a great night out.”
Lost & Found has added two more bars to help speed up service and purchased outdoor heaters to keep those waiting in line warm.
“It’s never our intention to make people wait or stand outside especially during the fall when it’s chilly,” says Botero. “But it’s also equally if not more important that we maintain our capacity, a safe environment, and provide fast and quality service to all of our guests.”
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t completely bullish on Lost & Found. I didn’t see the market as clearly as Botero, but then again, I’m a Barbour-jacket-wearing, 35-year-old dad who loves Selwyn Pub.
Turns out that Charlotte needed Lost & Found.
“Hundreds of people were leaving South End to finish out their night in Uptown,” says Botero. “We wanted to solve that problem by giving people a reason to stay in South End until 2 a.m.”
He was right. And he’s got the lines to prove it.