Inspired by the stunning natural beauty of New Zealand and the laid-back yet warm hospitality provided by locals, the concept for this, 2,100 square-foot comfortable, North Park eatery began by centering around one word: transformation. This was galvanized from both the surrounding neighborhood of North Park as it continues to develop and flourish as a prominent thriving community and also from the existing property itself being reborn from the humble sandwich shop it was before to the striking property it has become today.
Taking cues from the native New Zealand Maori culture, the existing structure of Dunedin North Park, before remodeling began, bore a striking resemblance to the A-frame design of Maori communal structures often referred to as “meeting houses.” After that correlation was made, the vision of the restaurant’s design and decor was solidified and developed further. This sense of transformation was integrated into every aspect—from decor to the menu—of the property, so much so that it was also decided to pay tribute to the native New Zealand Maori symbol of the koru and make it the central theme. This spiral-like symbol, representing a unfurling silver fern frond common in the region, signifies new life and growth.
From that point, additional cues from the landscape of the southeastern region of New Zealand where the coastal city of Dunedin is located were infused into the overall aesthetics. A half-dozen local artists were commissioned to help bring this vision to life, including, the creation of a large hand-carved wooden structure encapsulating the restrooms that resembles the sandstone rock formations at Dunedin’s Tunnel Beach, as well as wooden table tops encased in layers of resin emulating surf breaks and ocean waves crashing onto a beach as if viewing from high above.
Clusters of capiz shells from windowpane oysters also cling to pendant lights suspended over Dunedin’s bar area as a nod to the expanding oyster farming and aquaculture in the area and bright red pieces of coral dangle from the 25-foot vaulted ceilings throughout giving visitors a feeling of being under the ocean.
In parallel with showcasing various elements representing nature, the owners and the designer were also focused on being very eco-conscious and sought out to use only non-toxic, recycled and repurposed materials. Tables made from the wood of an old pickup truck bed, metal grates and railing from a local salvage yard, and also exposed ceiling insulation made out of recycled denim and cotton fibers that contain no chemical irritants or carcinogenic properties are all prevalent examples of this effort throughout this magnificent property.