THE Hub Hospitality OF
It’s an exciting time in Christchurch as the hospitality sector moves up a gear. The Dux is leading the charge.
Anew city is rising out of the torn landscape which the series of earthquakes that began in September 2010 brought to New Zealand’s “Garden City”, Christchurch.
It is an exciting time for the citizens of Christchurch as we both watch and participate in the repair, rebuild and rebirth of our city and our homes. The sense of community problem-solving that was borne out of the devastation, from the hours of back-breaking liquefaction-shovelling, to inviting strangers to take a warm shower or recharge their phone is now concentrated on the new opportunities in design, retail, education, hospitality, recreation and public spaces. Just as Mother Nature pushes wild flowers through the rubble of demolished and vacant city lots, so too the people of Christchurch are thriving on the challenge of realising opportunity through adversity.
We are moving on from the loss of so much, helped along the way by the joyful, creative and innovative “Greening the Rubble” projects that sprung up following the quakes, and revelling in the energy of the rebuild. The city that lost so much of its treasures now bears witness, with a tangible energy and excitement, to the establishment of new icons.
The city’s story is mirrored in the story of The Dux Family of venues.
Originally the University of Canterbury, The Arts Centre (a collection of some of the few remaining heritage buildings) was home to the “Dux de Lux” without doubt Christchurch’s most iconic hub of hospitality. “The Dux” battled on after the September quake, and welcomed so many residents that day in search of something
reassuringly familiar, something quintessentially Christchurch. The damage to the building as a result of the February quake left them homeless, however.
Like the city, the owners of the business initially mourned the loss of what was there before, but took strength from the community’s need for “The Dux” to continue. “We simply refused to give up” says Richard Sinke, head of the Dux family. “We knew that the site would not be available for years, but we were encouraged by the “Save Our Dux” community campaign and knew that we had to continue to be a part of the fabric of Christchurch.”
Richard and his team set about to recreate the business, to establish new and iconic hospitality venues that had their foundation in the
past but a direction clearly in the future of a city reborn. Using the ingredients from their previous venture of great, friendly and welcoming bars and dining rooms, the new “Duxlings” reflect a passion for delicious, fresh food in smart, casual surroundings.
Situated in the cafeteria of the original Students’ Union, the Dux de Lux restaurant has evolved into Dux Dine, which finds its home in a lovingly and sympathetically restored villa – originally the railroad’s station master’s home – on Riccarton Road. Now offering full table service from breakfast through to dinner every day, Dux Dine remains a pescatarian restaurant like its predecessor. “With over thirty years of relationships, the same local suppliers deliver the freshest of produce and seafood to the kitchen door every day” says Richard. The menu truly is freshness on a plate. The Akaroa Salmon
and the smoked aubergine dishes are both mouth-wateringly stunning revelations. Save for a couple of French Champagnes, the wine and beer list at Dux Dine are also all exclusively the product of New Zealand’s bounty – some highly-awarded vineyards you may recognise are supported by other, smaller boutique labels that you won’t regret trying. Ask to be seated in the secluded garden and enjoy late summer al fresco dining.
With its reputation for serving the best craft beer (including their own brews), The Dux needed a new home for its much loved Brew and Tavern Bars, and when a lot became available on the footprint of an old brewery-bar, Sinke jumped on the opportunity. It was a brave move, surrounded as it was by construction and towered over by cranes. Just a year into operation, Dux Central has already become an oasis in the heart of the rebuild for both locals and visitors. It is a lush experience from beginning to end. Whether you are choosing one of the 200 listed beers in the English Pub styled “Brew Bar” with its wood panelling, or coiffing a cheeky chardonnay on the green velvet seating of the altogether more luxurious Emerald Room, you are receiving Christchurch hospitality at its best. The two-storied covered courtyard offers a great vantage point to both be a part of and apart from the rebuild happening all around.
The Poplar Social Club is a speakeasy style cocktail bar that completes the Dux Central offering and is Christchurch’s best kept secret – get comfortable, order a classic or a new invention, and let Charles, a cocktail maestro, regale you with tall stories that you will find yourself fondly retelling time and time again.
“We are honoured to be a part of the new Christchurch in buildings that reflect our history and heritage,” Richard says with palpable passion. “Offering a style of hospitality that reflects our future and the energy of our wonderful new city that is being built around us right now… It’s what we do.”
The Dux’s menu is “freshness on a plate”