Once an industrial warehouse, Universal Cafe is now an up-and-coming restaurant. A few minutes drive from the Fashion Center, the six-month-old cafe is already attracting an art and fashion crowd.
The 1,000-square-foot space, owned by partners Gail Defferari and Bob Vorhees, was formerly used to roast coffee beans for Vorhees’ other dining establishments, Ecco and South Park Cafe.
“Originally, we thought, ‘Hey! We already make coffee here. Let’s add some pastries and sandwiches and open for breakfast and lunch,”‘ Defferari says. “Now we serve up salads, pizzas, pastas and even a few entrees.” Chef Bernadette Kenny’s simple menu features everything from grilled shrimp on couscous to vegetable-packed meatloaf. And the space has been transformed into an airy dining room with tall metal-framed windows, sleek stained maple banquettes and a curved bar, thanks to interior designers Jeff and Larissa Sand.