Owners of Universo, Madlen and Wayne Shaw, have achieved what eludes so many: sophistication and style in an atmosphere of family-friendly comfort and approachability.
Its three spaces – the café, restaurant and bar – can be used individually for functions, or you can have exclusive use of all three. The space seats up to 100 for dining, 140 for cocktails or up to 200 using the outside space in favourable weather.
Universo offers a set menu, canapé or cocktail-style catering. Christmas function bookings are available but going fast, and weddings and private/corporate events are a specialty.
While brunch is busy, Universo comes into its own for evening dining; the warmth of the russet and tan interior is complemented by the view of the twinkling city lights through the expanse of the Art Gallery’s glass walls.
Beautiful menus, patterned with cherished gallery favourites, offer fine food as well as sharing plates, while the café cabinet mixes old and new favourites.
Universo Brasserie & Bar’s new owners Madlen and Wayne Shaw are passionate about great food and impeccable service so it’s no wonder they couldn’t stay out of the hospitality industry for long.
After a “few months off” in Europe, the couple say they are delighted to have found “the perfect opportunity” in Christchurch again.
The Shaws started Addington’s The Pedal Pusher gastropub in 2012 and Rolleston’s The Pedal Pusher in 2017. They also owned central city café, Therapy and have previously both worked on cruise ships. Wayne says he is excited about the menu that Universo will offer, which is reminiscent of the food he prepared while working on luxury yachts.
Madlen says she is looking forward to being “front of house”, making sure Universo customers enjoy their food and the experience.
Retaining most of the staff, including head chef Mark Wilson, it’s business as usual at Universo however, Madlen says there are a few exciting new things happening – including the introduction of a brunch service and quick lunch menu. “We will now open at 9am, seven days a week, so that customers can enjoy our new breakfast menu. “We will also be introducing live music during weekends and offering cabinet food, so that you can buy a sandwich or salad to go.”
Madlen says they will be keeping a few of the restaurant’s signature dishes like the Yorkshire Pudding and Lamb Shoulder dishes, but are also introducing more fresh, seasonal produce from the Canterbury region. “Visitors want to taste locally sourced produce when they come to Canterbury and that’s what we will give them.” In the next few months, Madlen and Wayne will be focusing on building up their staff and attracting customers back. “This restaurant is only a year old and was very successful until just a short time ago. We want to restore that quickly and get on with growing a fantastic destination for Christchurch locals and visitors,” Madlen says.
Universo is located beside the Christchurch Art Gallery and has the support of the Christchurch City Council. Mary Richardson, Christchurch City Council’s General Manager Citizens and Community says, “Universo has become an important part of the gallery experience. We’re excited to see this continue under Madlen and Wayne’s ownership, as they respond to the needs of our daily gallery-goers. “They bring with them a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and will complement what our gallery has to offer.”