‘We’re always thinking about food’: Daily Operation reopens at Eastworks for indoor dining

  • Daily Operation co-owners, from left, are Dave Schrier, Jess Pollard and Dave Clegg. They are standing in newly-opened space in the Eastworks building. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kung Pao Cauliflower at Daily Operation in the Eastworks building. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Buttermilk biscuits at Daily Operation in the Eastworks building. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Daily Operation’s new space in the Eastworks building has twice as much space as its previous location on Cottage Street. It also now includes outdoor seating. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Two years after closing for indoor dining, Daily Operation reopened two weeks ago in the Eastworks building. The new location has twice as much space as its previous location on Cottage Street. Above, the restaurant’s co-owners, from left, are Dave Schrier, Jess Pollard and Dave Clegg. STAFF PHOTOS/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The new space for Daily Operation in the Eastworks building. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/2/2022 5:00:40 PM
Modified: 3/2/2022 5:00:14 PM

EASTHAMPTON — For two years, Daily Operation has been closed to the public for indoor dining, providing only curbside and delivery service amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But two weeks ago, that changed when the day-to-day operation of the Easthampton eatery shifted to its new location in the Eastworks building on Pleasant Street.

The restaurant’s footprint is twice as large as its previous location on Cottage Street and also now includes outdoor seating.

Daily Operation’s new location also includes a stage, which will host its first live music offering on Saturday, March 12, featuring hip hop duo Armand Hammer with Akai Solo, A U R & jxylen.

Similar to their approach at the previous location, customers are still bound to see Daily Operation’s owners — David Schrier, Jessica Pollard and David Clegg — as they are also the cooks creating their expansive internationally-inspired dishes. From bread, noodles and pastry, to sausage and pickles, everything is made in house, says Schrier. They work alongside a staff of six.

“We’re always here and that’s very important to us. We definitely want our customers to feel taken care of,” said Schrier. “That rapport with our customers is hugely important.”

The menu continues to evolve from what was originally offered when Daily Operation first opened in June 2018. Schrier says that the restaurant offers a combination of regional American comfort foods as well as items that are inspired by Southeast Asian influences. Ingredients continue to be a big driver in dictating the outcome of a dish.

One example of that was their use of allium tricoccum, says Schrier. This wild species of onion, which is more commonly referred to as a “ramp” or “wild leek” has a flavor akin to garlic and onions, and resembles scallions. Typically harvested in the springtime, Schrier said area farms provided a ton of this vegetable and Daily Operation pickled, charred it in noodles and added it to condiments like mayonnaise.

The trio of owners read a lot and visit area restaurants like The Upper Bend in Turners Falls and Lili’s Restaurant in Amherst as well as several in Portland, Maine to fuel their inspiration.

“We have a lot of diverse influences that inspire us to do more and be more exploratory with our approach … We’re always thinking about food. Always,” said Schrier. “When we’re hyped about something, we know that our customers will be too.”

Top chefs

But it’s not just customers that are noticing.

The owners were notified last week that Daily Operation was listed among top restaurants and chefs from all over New England as part of the James Beard Foundation Awards. Considered one of the industry’s highest honors, the awards recognize the talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system all over the country, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.

Schrier, Pollard and Clegg were listed as semifinalists in the “Best Chef in the Northeast” category among 19 others.

According to the James Beard Foundation, chefs are named to this category for setting high standards with their culinary skills and leadership abilities, and for making efforts to help create a sustainable work culture in their respective regions. Chefs may be from any kind of dining establishment but must have been working as a chef in the region for at least three years.

Schrier pointed to other area restaurants like Northampton-based bakeshop Hungry Ghost Bread and the former Coco and The Cellar Bar in Easthampton, which had been featured as semifinalists several times in the past.

“To be named among restaurants that have been nominated many times in the past like ... is just really cool,” he said. “Hungry Ghost Bread has the best bread that I have ever had. Honestly.”

The James Beard Foundation also nominated Deborah Snow and Barbara White, partners and co-owners of Sunderland-based Blue Heron Restaurant & Catering, as a semifinalist for the “Outstanding Restaurateur” category. To be named to this category, restaurateurs should use their establishment to help build community, demonstrate creativity in entrepreneurship, show integrity in restaurant operations, and make efforts to create a sustainable work culture. Snow and White describe The Blue Heron, which has been open for 25 years, as an intimate, relaxed, upscale restaurant featuring globally inspired cuisine sourced ethically from the Valley and beyond.

Schrier also noted that while he and his fellow Daily Operation owners were excited to be acknowledged, for them, it’s their customers they want to continue to impress.

“It’s cool to be recognized, especially amongst places that are three times as expensive and fancy — we’re still using compostable paper boats and have quite cheap food,” he said. “But for us, we want out customers to feel comfortable and we want to over deliver on expectations. Ya know, a ‘Holy ****! That’s good!’ every time.”

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