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New South End Spot Might Be What We’re Missing

I set out innocently enough to celebrate a friend’s birthday, when out of nowhere a Sunday Funday struck.

Aerin Spruill

I started the day with the intention of getting a relaxing massage, enjoying a bowl of ramen from Futo Buta and showing some love at my friend’s shindig for just a couple hours before curling up on the couch. The next thing I knew, day turned into night, and we were all drunkenly trying to help a friend find her boyfriend’s only car key so we could venture to a new spot. Ironically, she’d find it two days later at Lost and Found, a new bar in South End’s Gold District.

For the past couple weeks, the buzz around the Queen City nightlife scene has included this latest addition. Locals have been asking questions, and it’s sort of my job to answer them, right? My trepidation and uncertainty compared to the excitement of friends who had already been, were working there, or acted as curators behind the concept was enough to convince me I needed to try this spot for myself.

After crawling around Charlotte for the past seven years, there’s very few nightlife additions that excite me. I’ve grown bored of asking questions like, “What’s different about this place?” and the like.

I think that’s the uncertainty I regularly feel when new places hop on the scene — the fear that a new venue won’t live up to the hype or bring a uniqueness to the nightlife table, which is most often the case.

Like many others, I’ve been scared of either hating a new concept or loving it only for it to go away, which can serve as a metaphor for relationships or any number of new things, but I digress. I started asking the question, “Will this idea even survive?” I think that we can all agree, viability and longevity when it comes to the food and beverage scene in the Queen City is a bit of a toss up.

In the past couple years, we’ve said goodbye to Connolly’s, Sushi Guru, HiTide Poke & Raw Bar, Rock Bottom, Flight, Twenty-Two, Kennedy’s, Solstice Tavern… the list goes on.

However, new spots are opening all the time, so let’s look at the newest. My piqued interest (and adventurous friends) pushed me into an Uber complete with mini bottles and we headed toward Lost and Found for “Out on Sundays” LGBTQ Night.

Let me preface my experience by saying this was the perfect night for me to attend. It was comfortably busy for someone who gets the meat sweats seeing just how long the lines have regularly been since the grand opening on Oct. 12. Not to mention, I was beyond excited to learn that “Out on Sundays” would be a weekly thing and my fave local DJ, DJ Fannie Mae, just so happened to be on the ones and twos.

“The whole point of this concept was inclusion. I didn’t want it to feel like a nightclub, I wanted it to feel like an elevated neighborhood bar,” owner Orlando Botero said as we chatted fireside at an outside pit table. And while the pink velvet couches, neon signs, floral accents/branding and specialty cocktails that we’ve heard about seem to be simply novel devices, they come together to push a feminine-forward vibe that seems to place Lost and Found at the perfect intersection of a sports bar and cocktail lounge. (Did I mention the space will also serve as a co-working office during the day?)

While some have said they feel the concept is ambitious, I say maybe this is what we need right now — something that you can’t really fit in any given box. And maybe, just maybe, that thing sits in the middle of a few things and fulfills its original purpose: to make everyone feel welcome.

I’m no expert, I just know where I like to have fun. I drown out the noise and try to find the spots that feed into the energetic pulse of nightlife. There are places in this beautiful city that certain groups of people love that are here to stay and it just so happens I can’t stand them. There are other hole-in-the-wall spots that excite me beyond my wildest dreams and they’ve survived decades. At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s all a matter of perspective.

Nevertheless, in what I’m sure is an exhausting industry for restauranteurs and bar owners, I do not envy nightlife curators like Orlando, tasked with keeping the Charlotte landscape alive. However, I do envy their passion and commitment to breathing life into what has been for me a stale atmosphere, and pushing the boundaries of what we “think” a new concept should look like.

As the saying goes, “Don’t knock it till you try it.”

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