John Patterson, The Grates

The real Brisbane is in the suburbs ...

It’s been quite a ride for Brisbane’s John Patterson and Patience Hodgson since they met as teenagers back in high school. Cue an award-winning band, a beloved cafe, a wedding, a record label and soon an eight-keg tap house, permanent food truck and a baby. The local dreamers are devoted to developing Brisbane’s sometimes-forgotten suburbs, hatching unique and utterly charming venues that quickly become cult favourites. Just before John heads into lockdown with business and baby preparation, The Weekend Edition dropped in to Morningside’s Southside Tea Room to chat hungry hippies and craft beer.

We were excited to hear about your next big project; what can you reveal about the plans for a new bar and permanent food truck?
The bar that’s been getting squashed up the back of Southside Tea Room is going to grow into an eight-keg tap house in the shop next door, called Death Valley. And we’re building a beer garden/food truck court in the car park to be the home of The Red Robin Supper Truck, run by rad dude and head chef Rory Doyle. We’re running a Pozible crowd-funding campaign to make the beer garden and food truck.

How did the original idea come about?
After hosting a few really successful Red Robin Supper Clubs at Southside, we all wanted to build something together, and just kept our eyes out for the right opportunity. Then when we found out we could take control of the building, we kinda just built an idea around the space. And then when we found our food van on Gumtree, it was just too good to be true!

What hints can you give us about the beer and grub we’re going to be consuming? We’ve heard whispers of a collaboration with Mountain Goat Beer …
Yeah I’m so excited about the collab with Mountain Goat! I’m going down to Melbourne in January to brew a beer – I don’t want to give it away yet – but it’s going to blow minds! Death Valley is going to be a craft beer tap house; we’re going to have some taps dedicated to our favourite breweries rotating their range, then a couple of wild card taps. Rory’s also planning on changing up the menu frequently and seasonally, which is exciting for a food truck!

Locals adore Southside for its homely atmosphere and menu full of sentimental dishes – what’s been your personal favourite menu item over the years?
The Hungry Hippie with bacon is still my go-to Southside lunch! It’s everything a breakfast sandwich should be.

You also recently launched the Death Valley record label with your wife and bandmate, Patience. What was the objective behind striking out on your own?
After running Southside for a few years, we were confident we could run a record label and we wanted to try out some ideas that just wouldn’t fly on a big label.

As if that hasn’t kept you busy enough, the band has also just released your new album, Dream Team. It had been a while between releases, how does it feel to have fresh music out in the world?
It’s relieving! It’s been ages and Southside took up our time for so long, I’m really proud we even found time to make a record.

You’re expecting a new arrival soon – will your baby be listening to Dream Team as he/she drifts off to sleep?
Nah, it’s had enough Dream Team in the womb. I’m really looking forward to playing the piano and singing songs to the baby though!

What did you and Patience think of each other when you first met?
We met at a TAFE drama class when we were in high school and I’d never encountered someone so confident and warm. And pretty! She really was like no one I’d ever met.

If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice, what would it be?
You don’t always have to suffer for your art … though sometimes it helps.

What’s your favourite song in The Grates’ back catalogue?
I always have favourites when we make an album, but looking back I’d feel mean to all the other songs choosing a favourite!

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would you pick?
Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo. I’m not sure I’d bring much to the collaboration, but I’d love the opportunity to watch him work.

What makes you happy?
Watching TV and eating takeout food with Patience, riding along the Brisbane River listening to podcasts and smashing out a busy weekend brunch at Southside.

Only a Brisbane local would know that … the real Brisbane isn’t in the CBD or Fortitude Valley, it’s out in the suburbs where authenticity thrives.

Along with Patience, you’ve launched a bunch of different projects and businesses over the years – what advice would you give to someone who had a dream but was too afraid to act on it?
Choose something you care deeply about, start small, put in the work, work with people you love.

Perk up …
Carte Blanche Espresso in Camp Hill – fun menu, good coffee, friendly service.
Relax … riding my bike along the Brisbane River.
Catch up … Pho Inn in Camp Hill – great prices, killer broth.
Be inspired … Archerfield Speedway on a Saturday night.


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