Angelique Carr chats to UON student Josh Crofts about Newcastle Bites, the site he started to showcase all the best food deals in Newcastle.
Newcastle is a foodie’s paradise, but all that culture and those delicious carbs can seem out of reach when you’re living on a student’s budget. If you’re always looking for the best deal (or just some good, cheap food), then say hello to your new best friend, Newcastle Bites. Founded in 2016 by UON student Josh Crofts, #NewyBites collects all the best deals from the best restaurants around town, arranged conveniently by days of the week.
“I have always been one to love finding a bargain or a decent deal that offers real value whether it is food or any other item,” he said. “The way I like to think about it is why would I pay full price on a Wednesday for a chicken schnitzel if I can get the same schnitzel on Thursday for less. But the hardest part was finding out where that is.”
Crofts said idea for the website came from his own experiences as uni student looking for cheap food.
“The idea for the website came 6 months before I even started making it when my wife and I were trying to find somewhere to go out for dinner,” he said. “We were searching online and, being uni students, were looking for specials and the only information was a few years old and was most likely out of date.”
Within a day, Crofts said, the idea was written down and the name Newcastle Bites was thought of. It wasn’t until six months later when he decided to try and make a website out of it himself, to learn some practical skills that would complement his future career as a technology teacher.
“Our team consists of myself, my wife who has been dragged into my latest hobby with me whilst she is still at uni,” he said. The rest of the team is made of a few friends who help them come up with new ideas, keep an eye out for any food specials around town and send photos when they are out and about.
Crofts said that the site’s present goal is to be financially sustainable.
“Our current short term goal is for the site to generate enough income to cover the costs of its upkeep,” he said, noting that after three months they’ve almost already achieved that. “For the long term though we do not have any particular goals and are just excited to see where it can take us.”
Further on, Crofts said they want the site to continue to grow and be a resource for the people of Newcastle.
“Ultimately, we want it to be a place that people can find some awesome deals within the thriving food scene of Newcastle,” he said. “The more people that visit the site the more likely venues will be interested in being listed.”
Just last week, the site opened a new weekend specials section and Crofts said they hope to incorporate a happy hour or drinks specials section as well as student deals and prices.
But, as any student can relate to, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.
“Newcastle Bites was born and began during my exam study at the end of last year so it is only now that I am beginning to understand what it takes to balance uni, life and the website”, Crofts said. “We have tried to structure it in a way where there is as little input needed as possible for ongoing maintenance.” They have found that their social media presence has declined since the semester started with the team being busier with study and work than they were before.
Crofts is so busy he hasn’t even had time to eat at all the venues.
“Currently we have almost 40 venues listed on the site,” he said. “So, no we haven’t been to all of the places yet. In fact, since I started the site I think I have eaten three or four of those specials.” He tries to stay as unbiased as possible with any venue being able to be listed for free on the site after the contacting the team. He thinks it is up to the site’s users to decide if it is a good deal or not.
Crofts encourages other students to try something as new as starting their own website while they’re at university.
“Being a university student gives you lots of free time to chase dreams and passions outside of your study. If you have an idea or want to learn something new, then jump in and try it,” he said. “We still don’t really know what we are doing with Newcastle Bites but we will continue to try new things and see what happens. If we fail, then that is alright as it is just another opportunity to learn from and we can always try again.”
Newcastle Bites can be found on their website, newcastlebites.com, and on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. Crofts and the Newcastle Bites team are eager for feedback and suggestions so feel free to get in contact with them if you have any ideas about how they could improve the site or if you have any tips for great food in Newcastle.
Feature Image: Cel Lisboa, Unsplash, no changes made.