All the new venues on city's quirkiest street that's the 'best it's ever been'

Kate Graham at her shop The Retro Room on Lark Lane
-Credit: (Image: Liverpool ECHO)

Lark Lane is home to an eclectic mix of businesses that attract visitors from across the city.

The area acts as a gateway to Sefton Park, making it the perfect detour for thousands of people heading to festivals such as Africa Oyé or In The Park. However, Lark Lane doesn't need to rely on neighbouring events to drive in visitors, not when the street has so much to offer in itself.

The Albert has been pulling pints for more than 140 years. The pub is credited as being one of the first watering holes in the area, long before it became a haven for foodies and retro shoppers.

Keith's Food and Wine Bar has also stood the test of time, first opening in 1976. These longstanding businesses have remained a constant on "the lane" through the decades, while new venues have popped up around them.

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The busiest new arrival is Lunko, a delicious bakery with lines stretching down the street for hours. The bakery offers a fantastic array of parties - ranging from filled croissants and Portuguese favourite pastel de nata.

Owners Adelina Blanaru and Marius Dogaru have been blown away by the response to the Little Parkfield Road venue since it first opened.

Adelina Blanaru and Marius Dogaru with their English Bull Terrier Torsten outside Lunko, just off Lark Lane
Adelina Blanaru and Marius Dogaru with their English Bull Terrier Torsten outside Lunko, just off Lark Lane -Credit:Adelina Blanaru

Adelina told the ECHO: “It’s been a challenge for us. (To compare then to now) is unreal. It’s amazing to see the response we’ve had with Lunko. We never expected it to get busy for a very long time. It’s unbelievable and very humbling for us to see how much people love our product and experience.

“Liverpool is 100% our home now, and we’re proud to say that. It’s been such a welcoming city and it has helped us to level up on a professional and personal level."

Gran Caffe's Lark Lane venue opened last week. The business is known across Liverpool for its Italian coffee, handcrafted pastries, delicious sandwiches and award-winning, artisan gelato that’s made in-house every day.

Owned by Italian brothers Paolo and Donato Cillo, Gran Caffè first opened in Williamson Square as part of the popular Italian Quarter over 10 years ago. Since then, the family business has opened another coffee shop on Duke Street in December 2023. Donato previously told the ECHO it was "only a matter of time" before they moved to the area.

When guests aren't filling their faces with cakes at Lunko or Gran Caffe, they can head to Lark Lane's other new venue The Garden. The restaurant opened last month serving guests everything from a full breakfast to pancakes and focaccia sandwiches.

Blending in with the street's bohemian feel, The Garden is a "tranquil oasis" - with plenty of greenery, natural light, and comfortable seating. Lark Lane has always been a well-known food haven but it holds visitors long into the night thanks to a variety of boutique bars.

Blondies is a quaint little venue with a lot of personality. It arrived at the tail end of 2021 on Lark Lane and has since been packed to the rafters with customers enjoying a drink, a sing-along and live music.

Blondies is a staple pub on Lark Lane
Gran Caffe owners Paolo and Donato Cillo

Blondies owner Anthony told the ECHO how Lark Lane is the "best it's ever been at the moment". He said: "Providing the weather's good there's a lot of footfall regardless of what's going in Sefton Park. From 10 in the morning [on the weekend], the amount of people is unbelievable."

Anthony said the many events in Sefton Park bring an "awful lot more" people who are "going to spend money on the Lane." He added: "The park's used for all sorts of things, whether it's charity run events, food and drink festivals, obviously there's big concerts planned for Jamie Webster [and] Cream Classical.

When asked if that was when Lark Lane was at its peak, Anthony said: "Lark Lane is at its best now. Since coming out of Covid people are just prepared to spend a little bit more now and enjoy themselves." He also said he thinks people are choosing to stay local instead of going into two which is helping independent businesses along Lark Lane.

Petit Cafe on Lark Lane
Blondies is a staple pub on Lark Lane -Credit:Liverpool Echo

Bistro Noir sat on Lark Lane for more than a decade but sadly closed its doors in March this year. The family-run restaurant was a cornerstone of the area serving everything from world cuisine and cooked breakfasts to Sunday roasts. The reason for the bistro's closure is unknown but the premises didn't stay vacant for long thanks to a lively little Parisian jazz bar.

Petit Café opened within the month and was packed out within minutes. Social media manager Alex Simpkins previously told the ECHO: "The support from socials and the community on the lane has been overwhelming. Everyone has been so kind and lovely.

"Petit is such a strong brand, everyone was excited to go. We think it's something that's almost missing from Lark Lane - it was the perfect place. There are numerous bars down here and so much going on."

Polidor 68 on Lark Lane
Petit Cafe on Lark Lane -Credit:Andrew Teebay Liverpool Echo

Petit Café is in good company thanks to the likes of Blondies and the long-standing staple Love and Rockets. While the lane has changed drastically over the past few years, the family-run bar and eatery has thrived for almost a decade.

The wine bar Polidor first opened in 2019 but has been closed since January for what it describes as some "well-needed TLC", promising to return very soon with a "fresh look".

You can't discuss Lark Lane without mentioning the shops. For decades, it's long been the place to go for vintage finds, attracting customers from all over Merseyside enticed in a bargain or groovy print. In April 2022, Kate Graham, moved from her vintage clothing stall in Red Brick Market to her own shop The Retro Room, becoming the latest in a long lineage of vintage sellers.

She was viewing a flat on "The Lane", which she now lives in, and walked past a woman painting a building and she saw potential. Inside the nightly coloured storefront, shoppers can find equally vibrant clothes from bygone eras.

She said: "It's dead busy, everyone’s so sound. I’m a queer-owned business, everyone that works here is queer. And I think it’s also really welcoming around here and it’s nice to have a safe space for them and for us. It’s for everyone, but it’s nice. Around here people are a bit more open."

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