When you walk into The Daily – which you can’t do during Covid-19, but for six years you could and you will again in the future – you get transported to three great cities simultaneously.
First is Charleston, because the store on Upper King Street, just below the bridge entrance, is a product of the city’s exacting standards for food and bev, and because just about everyone eating and drinking there, or walking out with fare for the morning, is a resident, likely of the surrounding peninsula neighborhood.
Second is New York, because The Daily was modeled after the corner grocery store, the bodega, of New York City. It’s a place where you can grab a cup of primo joe, a loaf of still-warm bread, a breakfast burrito or pita with locally sourced components, and some food staples to get you through the day.
Troisième, c’est Paris. That loaf of bread isn’t some factory concoction injected with vitamin molecules and trucked from a plant in New Jersey. It’s baked fresh by artisans at The Daily’s sister, Butcher & Bee. The Daily is a place that locals frequent for fresh ingredients to be eaten that day. Lather, rinse, repeat.
No wonder so many Dailyheads – or whatever you would call its acolytes – return on a near…well, daily basis. After all, we need the morning fuel and the day’s culinary supplies every day. It’s not for nothing that Michael and Melody Shemtov, proprietors of Butcher & Bee, The Workshop and other restaurants in Charleston and Nashville, named the place the way they did. From the start, their plan was for The Daily to serve just that purpose.
Like Cheers Without the Bar
The food and drinks, whether breakfast, lunch or macchiato with hazelnut syrup may be a little fancy pants but the vibe is just the opposite. It’s inclusive, welcoming and authentic – all the things you have to be to attract regulars.
Here’s how Melody put it:
“It’s like (the TV bar where everyone knows your name) Cheers without the bar. In The Daily version of Cheers, instead of pouring Norm’s favorite beer when he walks in the door we’re pouring your favorite latte with skim milk.”
The food is all fresh and locally sourced, just as it is at many Charleston restaurants. That’s the thing about the local food scene in which the Shemtovs are so well ensconced: Charleston area restaurants don’t compete with each other so much as they all compete together against other cities. Because Charleston’s eating scene stacks up against anyone’s, good places to eat here are great places to eat.
So when urbane, downtown Charlestonians check in daily at The Daily, that’s a sign of quality cuisine and a warm atmosphere.
Listening to the Customers
For that, you can thank the customers of The Daily. Really! Originally conceived as a place to purchase a wide variety of products and be on your way, The Daily responded to customers’ desire to sit and chill while their neighborhood passed through. Out went all the non-staple items – the flowers and fish and t-shirts – and in went seating.
Of course, you can’t sit inside The Daily today. You can’t go inside at all. Heck, Michael and Melody Shemtov can hardly get in the door – and they’re the folks paying the rent. That’s because staff is so assiduously sanitizing and controlling the environment in which they work, garbed in masks, gloves and an obsessive dedication to safeguarding the health of their beloved customers, that service has moved entirely outside. Tables and chairs have been added and you can get just about anything on the menu via takeout, delivery or sipping and noshing under a haint blue sky.
You’ll Dance the Hava Nagila
So what’s to die for at The Daily? Start with the avocado toast. Sure, says Melody, it’s become a cliché, but clichés are usually clichés because they bear some truth, and nothing is truer than the taste of The Daily’s avocado toast, a generous portion that makes your palate dance the Hava Nagila.
You can’t go wrong with the Daily Lunchbreak, which varies day-to-day, as do we all. Or with any of the bowls filled with greens and other exotic grub like cauliflower in one dish, hummus in another and fried eggs in a third.
And of course, there’s the coffee, an obsession of the owners who serve a high-end brew in all their restaurants, even the Redheaded Stranger, their Nashville taco joint. Add the made-from-scratch bread and pastries from Butcher & Bee, and you get a mashup of coffee shop, breakfast place and corner grocery all in one, with an extra dash of inclusiveness that you can see in the faces of the staff and customers alike.
All that goodness and it’s open… wait for it … Daily.