When Australia locked down at the start of the pandemic, businesses everywhere were forced to adapt – even those operating in Brisbane’s platter box and grazing tables scene. For Zoe Johnstone of Say Cheese – a pioneering player in the city’s nascent charcuterie and cheese catering sector – a perfectly timed pivot to gift packs allowed her business to not only weather the tough times, but thrive. As birthdays, weddings and gatherings small and large were postponed, packages of provisions (think personalised parcels filled with cured meats, portions of artisanal cheeses, seasonal fruits, dips and mixed olives) became the go-to way to celebrate an occasion in absentia. While undoubtedly a huge plus, this surge in online custom presented Zoe with some logistical challenges – she needed more kitchen space to prep orders (and greater cold storage capacity for ingredients) and a central base of operations that could service both delivery and pick-up clientele. A city-spanning location-scouting operation yielded a promising site on Bennetts Road in the form of an empty restaurant space once home to Latin American eatery Villa Maria. It ticked all the requisite boxes. Kitchen space? Check. A large freezer? Check. Convenient location? Check. The most unexpected boon was the restaurant space, which was too good a set up to let sit unused. Zoe and her partner Tom McKay decided to maximise the available space by using it to assemble and distribute Say Cheese orders during the day then operate a community-focused eatery at night. With ample cheese and deli meats already on hand, Zoe and Tom figured that a casual neighbourhood pizzeria made the most sense, thus Spread was born.
Although the building that Spread inhabits alongside Bamiyam and New Order Coffee Co. was the recent beneficiary of an exterior facelift, Spread’s interior was an empty shell. Zoe and Tom have elected to take a less-is-more approach to Spread’s 35-seat interior, leaning into a minimalist aesthetic comprised of crisp eggshell-white tones and rustic timber furnishings. The next step was finding a head chef up to the task of wielding the restaurant’s pizza oven and crafting Spread’s offering. Sergi Guasch – a chef who could previously be found spinning dough at Pizzeria Violetta in Kenmore – has come onboard to oversee the construction and execution of Spread’s, well, spread. Given creative licence to do his own thing, Sergi has nailed a tidy menu that includes nine pizzas, an assortment of snacks, a rotating pasta special, and two desserts. Early stand-outs include the Parma (a pomodoro-base pizza with mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, rocket, cherry tomatoes, sharved parmigiano and stracciatella), the Salumi (mild salame, pancetta, pork-and-fennel sausage, chilli oil and mozzarella) and the vegan-friendly Vegana (a pumpkin base topped with zucchini, walnuts, fresh cherry tomatoes and rocket). Sides such as fried calamari, pear-and-fennel salad and arancini feature alongside build-your-own spreads that make good use of Say Cheese’s larder as well as some newly added morsels (think ‘nduja and burrata) not suited to gift boxes. David Bone of Cuttings Wine has consulted on Spread’s wine list, which features a punchy selection of eight drops that range from Tuscan chianti and McLaren Vale shiraz to chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills and French rosé. Cold ones from Peroni and Birra Menebrea are also available alongside a small range of soft drinks.
Spread is now open for dine-in and takeaway orders. Opening hours and contact details can be found over in the Stumble Guide.