I know we don't do "name a more iconic duo" anymore, but hear me out: all-day coffee shop and bar-restaurant. Can you name a better pair?
That's the duo you'll find at the new Lost Fox which, as of this week, is up and running in Lowertown from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Annie Rose has worked in the restaurant industry for 25 years; her husband Michael Rose has been the coffee biz for about 12.
"In my years of being a server, which is my preferred job in a restaurant—I've done 'em all, and serving is my favorite to do—I like to create time and space for people," Annie says. Reading people, figuring out what they want, what they need, whether they're ready to order or not, when they're ready for a refill—that's the stuff that makes the job fun and rewarding.
But COVID changed the Roses' relationship to the work, upending their lives and the lives of their kids with sudden and unpredictable closures. We've written before about the people who put the industry behind them for good after the pandemic hit, but Annie and Michael doubled down.
"I needed more knowledge about what was going on in my life, instead of just being told about it secondhand from someone else," Annie says. With nearly 40 years of industry experience between them, they'd talked before about what it would be like to open a place of their own. "I remember going home and being like, it's time."
Lost Fox combines its owners respective areas of expertise: coffee shop by day, restaurant by night. The coffee shop has been up and running since early April; they got their liquor license in May; and they hired head chef Ana Contreras, whom Annie has worked with for many years, in early June.
"Every time you complete something it's like, okay, I made it this far, now I just need to make it a few more steps. Kind of like... have you ever run a marathon?" Annie chuckles.
Just this week, Lost Fox was open for their first "full, full day," with coffee and sandwiches in the morning (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.), a lunch/dinner menu in the afternoon and evening, (3 to 10 p.m.), and an 11 p.m. close. (There's also happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. daily—even on weekends—with a dollar off taps and rail and cheap wine.)
The menu is small and streamlined for now, with a burger, chicken wings, a chicken sandwich, and snacks like kimchi chorizo queso fries and esquite corn fritters. Generally speaking, Annie says they're trying to keep their prices on the lower side for Lowertown—breakfast and lunch sandwiches are between $8.50 and $11.50—asking, about every price point, "If I went out, would I be OK with this?"
The cafe is open and airy; its beautiful brick walls are decorated with textiles from local artist Amber Jensen. They'll work with rotating artists every few months, and as they hire more help in the kitchen—it's a marathon, remember?—they'll expand the menu, with a focus on adding more vegetarian options.
Annie and Michael both love Lowertown, but few restaurants and cafes in the area are open every day, and fewer still are open as early as Lost Fox. "It's really important for us to be there for the neighborhood," Rose says. "There's a lot of places in Lowertown, and a lot of places just in general, that aren't open every day.
"I really love and appreciate the people who live in Lowertown," she continues, "so staying with them, and being a part of the community was really cool."
213 Fourth St. E., St. Paul
8 a.m. - 11 p.m. daily