Chef’s Corner: Spiedo’s Owner Brad Greenhill

Opening this past October, Spiedo (pronounced Spee-A-doh) took over the former Chela’s Restaurant and Taqueria at 307 S. Fifth Ave in Ann Arbor. 

Featuring an eclectic Mediterranean-inspired menu, Spiedo features food that strikes the balance of healthy and delicious with items such as filling rolled flatbread sandwiches and customizable rice bowls. 

At the restaurant’s helm is chef Brad Greenhill, who orchestrates the business while discovering ways to provide innovative meals. 

Greenhill shares his story regarding the restaurant’s inspirations, his favorite meals around the city, and his journey as a chef. 

What made you want to become a chef?

That was not my original plan. I went to school at the University of Michigan for Engineering, and I used to cook to pay my rent. After graduating, I stuck with cooking but didn’t intend to be a chef. I cooked for a few years, but I left the business. After being away from cooking for a while, I decided to get back into it by doing pop-ups. That evolved into a food truck and ultimately opening restaurants. So now, I can’t picture not being a chef.

Share your culinary journey with us. What were you doing prior to Spiedo? 

Prior to Spiedo, I had restaurants in Detroit, one being Takoi, which started as a food truck in 2014 and later a brick-and-mortar that opened in 2016. Before that, I had been doing pop-ups and was a chef on the East Coast in Boston for a couple of years. Now, I’ve opened a few restaurants. One closed during the pandemic, called Magnet, and was also in Detroit.

What’s the culinary inspiration behind the Spiedo menu? 

The food comes from a few different angles; my restaurant in Detroit is predominantly Thai. Before cooking Thai food, I made Italian and Mediterranean food, with southern food being a love of mine. 

Magnet was Mediterranean-focused, but it unfortunately closed during the pandemic. So Spiedo picked up where Magnet left off but in a casual rather than fine dining setting. 

The other thing that contributed to the menu was the size of the restaurant space. It came with a six-foot griddle from the previous tenants, and I purchased a vertical rotisserie for the restaurant in Detroit. However, that equipment and the griddle fit perfectly underneath the hood for Spiedo. We had the equipment and grew the concept from there. We use the griddle to make our bread and the rotisserie to roast meats. That’s how the menu concept came about.

On your days off, what is your favorite restaurant to visit?

I have two kids, so It’s usually pizza or a place where it is okay to take two small children. Usually, on my days off, there’s a pop-up in Detroit at Batch Brewery that does grilled charcoal grilled chicken. We go there on Mondays, and if we’re going out to a nice dinner, it’s Selden Standard because we can take the kids there.

What’s your favorite meal to make (in general)?

Every Sunday, I make my daughters pancakes. That’s become a tradition, they’re buttermilk pancakes. I don’t usually pat myself on the back, but it’s a good pancake recipe I came up with. If I’m cooking other stuff at home, it’s usually Italian food. Whether it’s making pizzas, pasta, or, during the holidays, we’ll make lasagna at home. Fortunately, my partner cooks a lot at home because I’m busy with the restaurants.

Do you have a menu item that you wish you could add, but haven’t?

There’s a walleye sandwich I’ve wanted to put on the menu but haven’t gotten to it yet. We’ve also wanted to play with corned beef or pastrami on the Spitz. We’ll get there, we’ve only been open a few months.

What do you believe the Ann Arbor restaurant scene is doing right?

Ann Arbor has a lot of good options. I love the Ann Arbor farmers market, it’s strong and a great resource for the city. Several restaurants in the area use local farms, like Spencer, which I think is great. I also really like that the diners in Ann Arbor are knowledgeable and passionate about food. 

What is the best advice you have ever been given in the industry? 

Don’t open a restaurant, but I haven’t followed that one.

What is one goal for your career in 2024?

To grow as a chef and have success with Spiedo and Takoi. This will be our first full year in operation, where we have a spring and a summer. We’re excited to see how that goes in Ann Arbor, and hopefully, this year continues to bring us success.

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Antonio Cooper is a freelance journalist from Detroit, Michigan. His coverage of music festivals and interviews with local celebrities appeared in The E-Current Magazine, The Detroit Metro Times, XXL Magazine, RichMagDigital, The Ann Arbor Observer, and Pop Magazine.