With two great cafes in Brunswick – A Minor Place and, more recently, Wide Open Road – Hootan Heyderi and Jono Hill have some real experience under their belts.

Wide Open Road was initially created to pick up where A Minor Place left off: roasting beans. “We always wanted to roast, but A Minor Place wasn’t the venue for that. And we thought, let’s wait and do it right,” explains Heyderi.

And after a year spent perfecting their house blend, Bathysphere (named after the Smog song), Wide Open Road has received some serious recognition. The Age named it one of their best cafes in 2011 and the business is now offering its beans wholesale to cafes around Melbourne. CBD favourite Hoboken is the latest to take Wide Open Road’s beans on board. And, of course, you can also find their roast at A Minor Place.

For two cafe lovers who knew little about coffee before opening A Minor Place, Heyderi and Hill had much to learn with their new roasting endeavour. As Heyderi, the main man behind roasting blends and single origins, offers, “Roasting is as complicated as I thought it would be and I am still learning all the time.”

With so much of their time focused on perfecting their roast, Heyderi and Hill’s future plans for expanding Wide Open Road were put on hold. But as their success grew, so did the demand for more space.

The duo have finally completed some major renovations to the cafe. After tearing down a wall and converting their old counter-top kitchen into a commercial one, Wide Open Road has nearly doubled in capacity. “The cafe feels so much more complete now,” says Hill. “This is always how we’d imagined using this space. So it feels really good to see it come together.”

With design by architect Nikki Adams, who also designed A Minor Place, Wide Open Road has a 1950s minimalist feel that is accentuated by the natural light shining through the two massive windows revealed during expansion.

Wide Open Road has “always been about roasting” and the new layout really accentuates that focus with the addition of a glass window in the back of the cafe, allowing visitors to watch Heyderi work his roasting magic. And with this window into their world, Heyderi and Hill welcome all those people interested in what makes a great cup of coffee, sharing all of the experience and knowledge they’ve gathered along the way.

Avid Wide Open Road goers can be assured that, despite the added commercial kitchen, not much will change on Wide Open Road’s food menu. Breakfast favourites like the poached egg with chorizo and the roasted apple and candied walnut pancakes are here to stay.

When asked about what is next for the pair, Heyderi and Hill said that they didn’t intend on making any more expansions to either venture. With a set of young twins and new film studio BIRD perched above Wide Open Road, Hill has got a lot on his plate, while running the roasting operations has Heyderi working overtime more often than not.

But this busy duo is still striving for perfection. “We really want to focus more on continuing to refine our roasting techniques,” says Heyderi, “and we’d love to get a couple more wholesale customers along the way.”

Indeed, for Heyderi and Hill, it’s all about refinement and creating an intimate environment for people to enjoy quality coffee and simple, tasty food. Via both A Minor Place and Wide Open Road, they’ve really figured out how to deliver.

Wide Open Road
274 Barkly Street, Brunswick
(03) 9387 6079

Mon to Fri 7am–5pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm