Growing up with the Daily Treat

FAMILY, FOOD & DRINK, LIFE

I don’t remember the first time I stepped foot in the Daily Treat.

I was young enough, actually, that my parents probably carried me into the restaurant, young enough that I didn’t eat but slept quietly at their side. I’m guessing I was about two weeks old.

My parents have loved the Daily Treat since before I was born.

Back in 1987, over sandwiches and salads with the real estate broker, they discussed their future in this quaint commuter town right outside of Manhattan. I think the charm of the restaurant drew my mom to Ridgewood, a place where she knew no one and would be alone most nights while my dad worked long hours at a nearby hospital. She was 24.

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Photo: dailytreatrestaurant.com

Looking through the Daily Treat’s large windows facing Ridgewood Avenue, my mom watched young mothers with strollers walking by. Even though the rest of her family lived on Long Island, where she grew up, she began to picture a new life in New Jersey. In a way, my history with the restaurant began right then.

The Daily Treat has been around for more than 50 years and is a constant in a village that’s constantly changing. As newer, hipper restaurants and shops have moved to town, the Daily Treat has stayed put. For me, it’s a place of comfort. I always order the same thing: eggs and toast or chicken fingers with thick-cut fries. I know when I walk in I’ll see one of the Greek owners, Gus or John, standing behind the checkout desk, greeting customers at the door.

It’s funny how places, just like people, can be there for every milestone of your life.

The Daily Treat was where we’d go with both sets of grandparents after concerts, dance recitals and graduations. It’s where my brother and I complained about ordering off the kids menu and then insisted on ordering off the kids menu, as soon as we were too old.

DailyTreatRestaurant.jpg

Photo: Foursquare

In the sixth grade, the Daily Treat was the first place my friend Jolene and I went “alone”. We dressed up in our best Abercrombie & Fitch outfits, packed our faux leather purses and smeared on lip gloss before walking the half mile to town. I remember the sense of independence we felt going to a restaurant without parents. To us, this was the first step to being grown up.

In high school, the Daily Treat was a respite from the stress of exams and too many extracurriculars. I’d go with large groups, either during an extended lunch or straight after school. I remember seeing groups of middle schoolers and thinking about how young they looked. Do these kids even know how to split a bill? How are they here alone? At some point it occurred to me that we used to be just like them, a giggling gang of sixth grade girls sharing a couple orders of fries. Looking back, I’m surprised the owners tolerated us.

I spent my college years in Indiana and a summer out in Toledo, Ohio, where I was a reporter for a local paper. My job took me across cornfields and through downtrodden Midwest towns where the sense of decay was palpable. I was lonely – most of my friends were interning in New York City that summer – but while on assignment I found comfort at diners that reminded me of Daily Treat, diners that reminded me of home.

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Photo: Dave D., Yelp.com

I still go back to the restaurant a few times a year – it’s where my childhood friend Laura and I catch up when we’re both in town. The place hasn’t changed much, though they now have al fresco dining and fancier-sounding menu items like Grilled Portobello Salad and Prosciutto Caprese Wrap. Over refill after refill of coffee we talk about our jobs, relationships and families. Sometimes we stay for three hours but no one ever rushes us, interrupting only to pour more coffee into the small white mugs.

It’s strange to think I’m already a year older than my mom was when she and Dad settled down in Ridgewood, yet I’m nowhere near as settled. Sometimes, when I’m at the Daily Treat I can almost see my parents sitting at the booth by the window, leaning into their drinks and one another other, exhilarated by the thought of starting their life together in this pretty village outside of New York City. Wondering how long it takes to thread yourself into the fabric of a community, how long it takes to call a place home.


Read more about the Daily Treat and its history here. 

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A low-key Sunday birthday

COFFEE, FOOD & DRINK, NYC

I love Sunday mornings.

But they’re even better when it’s your birthday.

irvingfarm

On Sunday I woke up on the early side and spent the morning doing one of my favorite things: relaxing at a coffee shop. I’d been meaning for awhile to check out Irving Farm Coffee Roasters in the Upper West Side, a spot my roommate had recommended but I’d been reluctant to go to since they don’t have wifi.

But today was my birthday. Who needs work? Who needs wifi?

I took the 1 train uptown and the shop was just around the corner from the 79th Street stop. I could tell immediately it was popular from the line out the door. Irving Farm bustled with Upper West Siders getting their pre and post workout coffee fixes, young families gathering for quick breakfasts before church, and older couples quietly reading The New York Times.

I waited on line for nearly 15 minutes just to order coffee, something I typically wouldn’t have patience for–but time is one of the great luxuries of Sunday mornings.

And I have to say, the quality of the coffee and the ample seating space made it worth it.

They also serve all their cold drinks in mason jars (don’t ask me why but that’s a game changer).

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After getting my dark roast I grabbed a seat in the back corner, opened my notebook, and did some writing. Irving Farm’s lively atmosphere made it a great place to people watch. I’ll definitely be going back!

Then, because I love coffee so much, I met my friend Grace for more coffee at Aroma a few blocks away. Aroma is an Israeli coffee chain that I discovered a few summers back while working at the Garden State Mall. One of Aroma’s first U.S. stores had opened up next to the Lord & Taylor where I was a sales associate, so each day I got my midday caffeine fix at the trendy new spot.

But having just returned from a trip to Israel where Aroma is as ubiquitous as Starbucks is in the U.S., Aroma now has a nostalgia factor for me. I immediately noticed Israeli accents when I walked in, and I overheard two women near us discussing the conflict in Gaza. Sitting on the covered rooftop, it was easy to believe I was back in Israel.

aroma

Grace and I spent about an hour at Aroma, chatting about our vacations and summer plans. After that I walked back to my apartment from the Upper West, then went for a run.

In the evening, my family came into the city and we ate at Rosa Mexicano near Lincoln Center. Margaritas, fresh-made guacamole, enchiladas, and family.

Perfect way to end the day.

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Given my ultra-caffeinated day, my sister’s birthday card to me was all too appropriate.

Why iced coffee costs more

FOOD & DRINK

I read an interesting article today on Grubstreet about why iced coffee costs more.

Broken down into a few major points:

1. Unlike bodegas and diners which just add ice to their hot java, better coffee shops use a cold-brew method to make iced coffee. But cold-brewing (steeping grounds in room temperature filtered water for 12-24 hours) requires more coffee. In the end, a cold brew uses 62 cents worth of coffee and a hot cup uses about 35 cents.

2. THE  CUPS. Those clear plastic cups that sweat on a hot summer day? They’re more expensive than the paper ones. Paper cups cost about six cents while the plastic ones can go up to 12 cents a pop.

3. Straws. Customers might think nothing of grabbing one of the hundreds of straws sitting in a dispenser, each of which cost one to two cents. But that adds up when you’re selling a lot of coffee.

4. Napkins. The aforementioned sweaty plastic cup means customers will grab a handful of napkins on their way out to grip the cold drink. And usually more than they really need (I’m guilty of that.)

5. Renting an ice machine costs $12/day. But if the ice machine breaks? Ice bags en masse from Gristedes, and they’re not cheap!

The good news for coffee shop owners? Hot coffee goes bad in about 30 minutes, but the cold-brewed concentrate can last up to a week. More bang for your buck…just don’t tell the customers.

So there you have it. All variables considered, iced coffee costs about 80 cents more than a comparable cup of hot.

It’s a summer survival tool that’s well worth the markup.

Quincy’s Cafe offers ‘something for everyone’

COFFEE, FOOD & DRINK

Walk into Quincy’s Café on any given afternoon and the first thing you’ll notice is the people.

Students clad in oversized headphones, hidden behind their laptops and towers of textbooks. Professors holding an orange coffee mug in one hand and a newspaper in the other. A poet scribbling down thoughts in his Moleskin.

Ismail Egilmez, owner of the café, says Quincy’s has something for everyone.

“I have 90-year-old women … playing cards games down to students studying, to locals who’ve been in town forever to artists to musicians sitting in the corner,” he said. “It’s what we are, the environment that I’ve set out … if you build it, they’ll come.”

Located on the corner of Edison Road and Route 23, Egilmez credits Quincy’s success over the last year in part to its central location.

“I’m at a good crossroads,” he said. “We’re next to the campus, obviously, which we totally love, we’re next to downtown, also next to Granger, which is very popular, and everybody moves through here.”


Egilmez opened Quincy’s Café one year ago with his father, Philip Egilmez, a Notre Dame alum. Ismail Egilmez had previously owned an art gallery in Chicago, which he was forced to close when the economy spiraled downward.

Opening his own café, he said, had always been a goal.

Now, the timing was right.

“It was harder and harder to find anything to really depend on … so the best answer to that was just to work for yourself,” he said. “So we came together, brought our heads together on it, and this is what came out of that.”

The quirky ambience of Quincy’s helps distinguish it from what Egilmez calls “sterile” coffee shops, chain stores like Starbucks and Seattle’s Best that have spread across the country since the early 1990s.

He said Quincy’s is an entirely different kind of venture.

“Just because the coffee associates us two doesn’t mean the whole idea of the business is [the same,]” he said. “This is more ‘take a break.’”

With its wooden tables, mismatched chairs and abstract artwork lining an entire wall, the atmosphere of Quincy’s is a major draw for creative types who find the South Bend area lacking in similar venues.

“It does build community really well, because people talk to each other and connections happen, it’s just great for the artists to be able to do that,” he said. “That way [I can] support doing the art, without completely depending on it, and still give back in that way.”

All of the artwork displayed is by local or regional artists. Egilmez also invites local musicians to play on a small wooden stage in the back of the café.

“There’s some weeks we have [music] Wednesday through Sunday, other weeks we have it just Thursday Friday and Saturday, but always Friday and Saturday and 90 percent of the time Thursday, Friday, Saturday, so yeah we really try to keep that going,” Egilmez said.

When it comes to food, Quincy’s also goes for local flavor.

“I think the signature thing is the ingredient,” Egilmez said. “I mean every restaurant is going to have a turkey sandwich, I mean we can’t patent that … it’s how you do it.”

All of the food is locally or regionally made, he said, and none of the ingredients are “skimped on.”

The coffee served at Quincy’s — on the pricier side at about two to five dollars a cup — is high quality and regionally sourced.



“We do Intelligentsia coffee because they’re a smaller business. I [found out] about them when I went to Chicago, basically I tasted that and I said I won’t go to any of the ‘other’ places,” he said. “It really is night and day.”

Egilmez said that despite doing very little advertising, numbers show Quincy’s has grown steadily each month since it opened last April.

But he said the timeline for possible expansion “kind of dictates itself.”

“We want to see if the cup keeps overflowing to see if that’s needed and so right now we’re at just about the right capacity with our shows and everything, so [eventually] expanding the venue so we can offer more, a little bigger of a stage,” he said.

Egilmez said he does not want to be the kind of owner that “sets and forgets,” failing to keep up with increased demand or customers’ needs.

“You have to keep moving with it a little bit, and change, but still keep the very main core,” he said. “I’m never going to lose what I’m about. Just [add] to it a little bit.”

Caffeine Culture

COFFEE, FOOD & DRINK, NOTRE DAME, OPINION, PHOTOGRAPHY, PUBLISHED WORK

Published in The Observer

If you’re anything like my friends and me, Starbucks downs your flex points just about as fast as you down its tall vanilla lattes.

I don’t even drink coffee just to stay awake. There are so many other great reasons to grab a cup: to fill an awkward break between classes, to catch up with friends, to procrastinate studying and to keep warm when the temperature goes subzero.

We live in a caffeine culture, and the ridiculously long coffee lines between classes prove that. You can even tell a lot about a person based on their caffeine preference.

We have the Waddicks types, who linger at the coveted red booths, reading Chaucer or discussing philosophy, slowly sipping large pumpkin spice coffees.

You know someone’s got a long day when their tumbler is filled to the brim with Grab and Go coffee and secured in the net pocket of a protruding backpack.

And then there are those who are perpetually holding Starbucks — never straight coffee but always with an excess of adjectives like nonfat, extra whip, unsweetened, light ice and no foam.

I may be stereotyping, but at Notre Dame getting coffee is a more social thing for girls than for guys. You are much more likely to see four PW girls in LaFun gossiping over coffee, than to see four Siegfried guys crowded around a Burger King table, chatting and sipping their nonfat lattes.

On the other hand, unlike guys, girls don’t typically purchase energy drinks to have fun with their friends. Let’s take the case of Five-Hour Energy shots. Girls never brag about taking them. In fact, most girls will down them in the privacy of a Subway booth or in their own rooms. But when guys pop open that small bottle, they have to broadcast it to whoever they pass by. It’s always like, “Dude, I’m so ridiculously awake now, I just took a Five-Hour Energy. Love that stuff.”

Addiction? Possibly. Problem? Not really.

But the Five-Hour Energy shot poured into the coffee? Yes, I’ve seen it done. Now that’s a problem.

At Notre Dame, we like to think that while we “play hard” on the weekends, during the weekdays we are studious, diligent and in control. However, our coffee drinking habits are oddly reminiscent of our weekend drinking habits. Why else would we order a double shot of espresso on a Monday morning, or claim that “one more cup” of coffee won’t hurt us? Why else would we suffer through headaches at 11 a.m., just because we didn’t have that morning cup?

Whether you’re a social coffee drinker, a caffeine addict, or, gasp, you “don’t like coffee,” there’s no denying that we live in a caffeine culture.

Of course, there are those out there who claim to survive without any caffeine at all. On good, old-fashioned sleep, they say. I still think there has got to be some method to that madness, but for now, more power to them.

What I Don’t Know

NOTRE DAME, OPINION, PUBLISHED WORK

Published in The Observer

Last week, a friend told me light roast coffee has more caffeine than dark roast.

“Um, that can’t be true,” I said as I frantically turned to Google to verify my preconceived understanding of the beverage. It’s a Wikipedia-confirmed fact, however, that caffeine content is actually burned off during the roasting process. In most cases, the darkest roasts are the least stimulating.

I tried to justify why I’d assumed the opposite, but came to no conclusions. Everything I thought I “knew” about coffee was shaken. I was a victim of the placebo effect.

This incident got me thinking about all the things I “know” and “don’t know.” About the many things I have always assumed to be “true,” without ever consciously arriving at their truth.

In a college environment like Notre Dame, we’re constantly revising, molding and adding to our perspectives on truth. The process is both exciting and uncomfortable. It reminds us of how little we know.

In an introductory history class my sophomore year, I assumed the entire semester a girl I had befriended was a freshman, simply because almost everyone was. On the second to last class day, she arrived wearing an engagement ring and brought up her plans to get married after graduation.

She was a senior? And getting married? I couldn’t believe it.

My views on her were turned entirely upside down. I realized she had knowledge I didn’t have — about relationships, Notre Dame and life in general. I didn’t know how to relate to her because I was no longer the older one.

I felt ridiculous for making that assumption, because while other characteristics might have led me to realize her age, the fact that she was in a freshman class overruled them all. First impressions do matter — I had closed my mind off to revisions after that first class day.

As a senior English major, I’ve realized the liberal arts education is as much about changing one’s way of thinking as it as about studying texts. The liberal arts education forces students to be cautious about making assumptions.

Every point must be supported, every thought defended. Reasoning and critical thinking are essential. These skills are applicable not only in the job world but in everyday life, and I’d argue that’s what makes a liberal arts education so strong.

Over my four years, I’ve gained a wide range of knowledge, some of which I’ve retained and some which is stored in some locked part of my memory.

But my English major education has also encouraged me to be comfortable with the unknown.

It’s a terrifying thought that in a few months, I’ll be leaving a place of comfort, a place that was home for four years. But it’s also it’s thrilling. There are so many things I don’t know.

Europe, through coffee

COFFEE, FOOD & DRINK, PHOTOGRAPHY

I don’t know what it is about coffee. I like to drink it, I like to write about it, I like to photograph it. Coffee has even found its way into my everyday attire by way of those inevitable spills when I’m walking too fast (which is usually.)

Anyway, since I arrived home from Europe a few weeks ago and am feeling particularly nostalgic for those café au laits, I thought this post would be appropriate. I present you: “Coffee Portraits.”

Cafe latte, Venice, Italy

Cafe americano, Salzburg, Austria

Latte with cinnamon and cocoa powder, outside Windsor Castle, Windsor, UK

Ok, not coffee, but the perfect complement! Salzburg, Austria

Cafe americano, Prague, Czech Republic

The ice coffees in Prague come with ice cream and whipped cream! Amazing.

Cafe au lait, Paris, France

Coffee. Ridgewood, New Jersey.

It’s a…blog!

COFFEE, CREATIVE WRITING, DESIGN, PHOTOGRAPHY

Dear friends,

As many of you know, I’ve been wanting to start a blog for some time. I love writing, photography, and aimless searching online, so a blog always seemed to be the perfect fusion of my interests.

The summer after my first year in college I interned at a New York based company called Magnet Media, writing blog posts for the photography and design channels of their website, Zoom In Online (Now The Photoletariat). Each day, I’d take my free trade coffee up to the tenth floor of the Chelsea office building, feeling as hipster as a freshman Notre Dame student from a preppy suburban town could feel. I loved my job and was fascinated by the blog world, by how entire communities existed online and artists exchanged ideas through comments and links and shoutouts.

But then summer ended and school started and I forgot about my quirky little pastime. Two years later, I’m finally giving it another try. This blog will contain my own creative writing and photography and finds from the design world.

Hope you enjoy!

Sara