Chef Brad Greenhill — whose beloved Takoi Thai-inspired restaurant in Corktown spent its early days in 2016 as a humble pop-up known as Katoi — is making his return to the spot on 5th Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor where he got his start as a restaurateur.
Greenhill, along with Takoi chef de cuisine Michael Goldberg, has his sights set on launching Spiedo (spee-AY-do), a mostly-Mediterranean restaurant in that same space he once described as “busted and needs more love than we can give it.” A taqueria that had taken over and remodeled the space after Katoi’s pop-up departure since closed during the pandemic, creating an opportunity for Greenhill and team to come back to Tree Town.
The grand plan behind the new eatery was that there really wasn’t one. In the kitchen is a flat-top griddle and a vertical rotisserie, leaving the duo with ample freedom to experiment with cooking techniques, flavors, and global influences. Spiedo (Italian for spit or skewer) will feature simple, spit-roasted meats and vegetables served with flat breads fresh off the griddle.
Vertical rotisseries are mainstays in cooking across the globe — from Middle Eastern shawarma to Turkish döner to Mexican tacos al pastor — and Spiedo will draw inspiration from all of those. “It’s not just Mediterranean,” says Greenhill, “There’s going to be Italian, Italian-American, and even some Takoi influences with the use of chilis for depth of flavor and umami.”
Greenhill and Goldberg have been busy developing and testing menu items on Fridays in a series of pop-ups at the recently shuttered cocktail bar, Root, where patrons can order carryout. So far, the pair has been experimenting with flatbread sandwiches, including the Calabrian chicken with harissa and cucumbers, The Georgian featuring lamb kebab with adjika and pomegranate, a meatball gyro, along with two vegan options — BBQ Celeriac and king oyster mushroom. One recent addition, The Beef Situation, features layers of harissa-marinated steak and merguez, that are roasted low and slow on the spit.
In addition to the sandwiches, diners can opt for fregola sarda — pasta salad with roasted vegetables, blood orange, feta — or the “Not Hummus,” ceci bean, green chili, walnuts, along with other vegetables and sides. Rice bowls and other non-sandwich entrees are also in development.
The space is currently being remodeled and is expected to open in June. It will keep the same layout with two small seating areas, each with room for 18 to 20 diners, in addition to seating on an outdoor patio. At the bar, diners can choose from a limited drink menu with beer, wine, and cocktails. One drink certain to be there is Takoi’s signature cocktail —Promises in Vortex. The spicy, smoky riff on a classic margarita with its tequila, mezcal, lime, mint, and Thai chili has been a mainstay at Takoi since its opening.
Back in summer 2016, the location was the home of Katoi in Exile, a pop-up restaurant with a menu inspired by cuisine from northern Thailand. Prior to temporarily setting up in Ann Arbor, Katoi had also operated as a food truck in Corktown. A move, landing on the James Beard Awards semifinalist list for Best New Restaurant, a name change to Takoi, and devastating fire later, Takoi is now a beloved mainstay in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.
Spiedo will continue to test menu items every Friday at Root. Orders can be placed via a link on the company’s Instagram page. Be sure to follow the team’s Instagram for updates on the next pop-up.
Correction: March 29, 2023, 4:15 p.m. This article was clarified to show that Takoi had previously operated as a food truck.