Goodbye Wai – hello Public Kitchen & Bar


A new Queenstown restaurant is using this original New Zealand phone booth to reflect its emphasis on good honest Kiwi fare. 

Former Wai Restaurant owners – (above from left) Martin and Megan James, Jan Rae and Alex Boyes – reopen their Steamer Wharf premises tonight as Public Kitchen & Bar. 

Rae says the concept came while eating a bag of favourite Kiwi sweet pineapple lumps: “After years of chasing fine-dining perfection we wanted to come back to our Kiwi roots.” 

Chef James says old family recipes inspired them. 

“Mum’s only really good dish was homemade trifle which is why I’ve included it on the Public menu.” 

Rae says the new restaurant also reflects changes since Wai opened 12 years ago: “People’s tastes have changed for one thing but also the type of visitor to Queenstown has changed, moving to a stronger Australian and domestic market.”