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Daily Operation offers international menu with everything under $10

  • Bun cha, a rice noodle dish with vegetables and pork sausage. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Left Dave Clegg, Dave Schrier, and Jessica Pollard, all owners of Daily Operation, a restaurant in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Cheesy fried potatoes at Daily Operation. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Diners at Daily Operation, a new restaurant in Easthampton owned by Dave Clegg, Dave Schrier, and Jessica Pollard. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Pork dumplings from Daily Operation. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Left Dave Clegg, a co-owner of Daily Operation with Dave Schrier, and Jessica Pollard, breaks apart rolls made daily for the sandwiches. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jessica Pollard stands with the desserts and rolls she makes for the restaurant. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A hamburger at Daily Operation. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A fish sandwich at Daily Operation. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Desserts made by Jessica Pollard, a co-owner of Daily Operation with Dave Clegg, and Dave Schrier for the restaurant in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/1/2018 12:04:32 AM

EASTHAMPTON — On nearly any given day, by around 7 p.m., there’s a buzz in the air at the Daily Operation on Cottage Street. Patrons line up to the counter and place orders from an internationally inspired menu as music ranging from Bob Marley to the Talking Heads keeps the energetic spirit alive.

“I want to be comfortable when I go out somewhere to eat, so we just wanted it to feel like you are at a community place where you can hang out,” co-owner of the restaurant, David Schrier, 37, said on a recent rainy morning. “We want you to be able to bring your kids here. If your kids are screaming — cool, no problem. Doesn’t bother me.”

The eatery at 42 Cottage St. underwent significant renovations before its June 25 opening. The owners — Schrier, his wife Jessica Pollard, 36, and fellow chef David Clegg, 28 — all lent a hand in installing a full kitchen, adding a large wooden counter made from a 60-year-old Easthampton tree, and repainting the walls of the restaurant.

“We always wanted to open a restaurant,” Schrier said. “That was always the hope.”

Wearing a backward black baseball cap and a burly beard, he shared the co-owners’ vision for the Daily Operation while sitting on one of the picnic tables inside the restaurant.

Until around four months ago, he and Pollard were working at The Alvah Stone in Montague — a restaurant they helped open in April 2014, along with owner Howard Wein. Schrier, as the executive chef, and Pollard, as the pastry chef, worked with Clegg who was also a chef there for some time.

“Working with Dave at Alvah Stone made it immediately clear that we got along really well,” Schrier said. “We knew that when it came time to open a restaurant, Dave would be the one.”

In 2008, Schrier met Pollard, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, working at Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Brooklyn. They married in 2012.

“Jess has that eye for detail for colors of walls, types of tables, adding tiles, and all the little things I would miss,” Schrier said. “Same for Dave with food from a savory standpoint. We all balance each other out, and we couldn’t have the restaurant without each of us.”

‘Know that we made it’

Music is important to the Daily Operation — it is named after Schrier’s favorite album by the hip-hop duo Gang Starr. Equally important, Schrier said, is having a diverse menu.

“The menu is totally fluid,” he said. “We’ve been open for about two-and-a-half months, and two-thirds of the menu is different than on opening day.”

Even as the “farm-driven” menu changes with the seasons, Schrier said, customers can expect influences from Southeast Asia, China, and South America.

Prior to opening, the Daily Operation received funding from the PV Grows Loan Fund, a consortium of organizations that invest in the Pioneer Valley food system.

Nearly all of the ingredients for menu items — such as Dave’s Big Boy Salad, the charred bok choy, and raspberry cheesecake bowl — come from surrounding farms. An important goal for the owners was to make sure that they could offer food under $10 that is “sourced well and cooked properly,” Schrier said. No single item is over $9.50.

Certain items, such as the dry-aged burger, meatloaf sandwich, and cheesy fried potatoes, will remain consistently on the menu, Schrier added. What’s available at local farms will help determine what the restaurant will offer.

“Things filter in and out,” Schrier said. “We are going into a season where things will look very different, with more squashes, broccoli, cauliflower and mustard greens.”

A key part of the restaurant’s approach is that “when you are eating something here, know that we made it.”

For instance, when you are eating a burger, know that the bun was made in house. Know that the rice noodles were made by Clegg that same day. Pollard makes all the desserts, including the Marlborough pie, black bottom maple pie, and poppy shortcake.

“There is really nothing we don’t make here,” Schrier said.

At the restaurant

Daily Operation’s hours are 5-9 p.m. every day except Sunday, and since the owners are also the cooks, patrons are bound to run into them on a visit.

On a recent evening, Ethan Markham shared a meal with his friend Chis Boucher, and both said they enjoyed the casual environment of the restaurant.

“If I could create my dream menu, this is what it would be,” Markham, 29, of Hadley, said. He got the blackened fish sandwich and said the burger and cabbage salad “are the best you’re going to get at any restaurant.”

He recommends the black bottom maple pie to everyone.

Boucher got the meatloaf sandwich and said it wasn’t “overwhelmingly big.” He raved about the dumplings and said the restaurant is “unpretentious … the space is totally cozy.”

Matthew Larsen and Sarah Smith have visited the restaurant about five times each, and they like how the menu often changes.

“You really can’t get this stuff anywhere else in the Valley,” Larsen, 42, of Easthampton, said. “There’s always something new to try, and everything I’ve had has been delicious.”

Larsen said he likes to order a few items from the menu and split it with his friends. He and Smith got the charred bok choy, the spicy chorizo sandwich, and the savory Vietnamese dish bun cha.

Schrier said that after years of working for several restaurants in Brooklyn, and later in Massachusetts, he wanted to create a space that was casual, not stuffy, a place where he’d want to hang out.

“We wanted to get to a place where you want to eat everything you are making and sit in your own place,” Schrier said. “It’s a tough thing to get to.”

Luis Fieldman can be reached at

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