Love Brisbane: Enterprising Flavours - Coppa Spuntino - Visit Brisbane

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Love Brisbane: Enterprising Flavours - Coppa Spuntino

How waiter-turned-restauranteur Tom Sanceau found success in The City.

Arriving from London in 2008, Tom Sanceau, 44, started his Brisbane hospitality career as a waiter at Cha Cha Char on Eagle Street Pier, while nurturing an ambition to establish a bar with Happy Fat Group business partner Bonnie Shearston.

The duo opened several award-winning bars and restaurants, starting with Canvas in Woolloongabba in 2010 and followed by Public in Brisbane City in 2012 and other venues in Brisbane and Los Angeles.

Coppa Spuntino opened in 2014 on Creek Street, an intimate venue beloved for its menu of pasta, pizzettas, spuntini (‘snacks’ in Italian) and an award-winning wine list before closing in March 2020 due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.

In the ensuing months, Tom concentrated on his other venue, Red Hook, a New York-inspired burger bar also located on Creek Street.

A site opportunity arose at Eagle Street Pier and in January 2021, Tom welcomed diners to the new Coppa, a light and spacious restaurant with indoor and alfresco dining on the Brisbane River.

"Coppa was originally established as an informal, casual Italian restaurant inspired by the traditional bacari of Venice,” Tom explains.

“When we relocated to Eagle Street Pier, we inherited a much larger venue and decided to create a more traditional menu of classic coastal Italian dishes with an emphasis on seafood and fresh Australian produce complemented by an extensive cocktail and drinks list.” 

Tom says operating Coppa during COVID-19 was a rollercoaster with fluctuating restrictions and operating guidelines impacting not only his business and staff but the wider hospitality industry in Brisbane City as well.

“Staffing during this time has been incredibly tough and my heart goes out to everyone in the hospitality industry who has been affected by the pandemic.”

“On the other hand, these operational challenges have made our core team stronger and more motivated to get better at what we do and deliver an incredible dining experience.”

“While we are unable to travel overseas like we used to, I hope Coppa can provide a form of escapism and through our food, drinks and design, we can make diners feel like they are in a coastal town in Europe.”

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Despite the challenges of the hospitality industry, Tom believes The City, with its palpable energy and status as a dining destination, has been integral to Coppa’s continued success.

“Being located in The City has been fundamental to our success, thanks to a fantastic regular lunchtime crowd who ensure we constantly evolve our menu with new items and specials. At night, the entire Eagle Street Pier precinct transforms into a dining destination, which caters to CBD workers, interstate travellers and tourists.”

“There's nothing quite like the pace of a busy city and every day is different, which makes it rewarding and fun. We are part of a great hospitality precinct with great neighbours and it's been amazing to see the revitalisation of Eagle Street Pier.”

Tom still marvels at his journey from food runner to restaurant owner in the upmarket City dining precinct and says he looks forward to welcoming diners back to Coppa.

“The opportunity to deliver a restaurant on Eagle Street Pier is truly a dream come true and has been an incredible journey.”

“Every day is a highlight. When you make someone feel special by providing an exceptional food and drink experience, it is incredibly gratifying.”

“I've been in The City for 12 years and it's been incredible to watch the CBD evolve and see incredible bars and restaurants and laneways develop,” Tom says.

“Brisbane is well and truly on its way to becoming a global city and it's going to be great to see how The City starts taking shape in the lead-up to the Olympics.”

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