Daughter’s Diner: Oakland’s Modern Take on the American Classic

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We all know the pandemic has devastated the restaurant industry. In particular, mom and pop stores and family eateries that don’t necessarily have the backing of a huge restaurant group, let alone budget, team, or ability to market, pivot and coalesce in a way. to prevent them from going bankrupt.

Also hard? New openings. Daughter’s Diner is one of those restaurants that recently opened despite tough industry conditions. However, he was forced to change course to stay in business.

A modern take on a classic diner, Daughter’s Diner is a charming restaurant located in Oakland, CA with a menu filled with your fun dishes, upscale favorite eateries, and even more delicious than you remember. Co-owner and chef, Keven Wilson wanted to modernize classic dinner dishes with techniques he has learned during his illustrious career so far.

More than anything, he wants to operate in the spirit of a real diner: accessible, serving good food in a welcoming and comfortable environment.

Classified as New American, popular plates include dishes like princess pancakes with raspberry jam and marzipan with almonds; wild mushroom fricassee with oatmeal and seasonal vegetables; Roasted pork shoulder with brown butter potatoes. There is also a selection of sandwiches, burgers and salads which include the Sloppy Sally with a roast chicken salad; the D Burger with an all-beef patty, special sauce and side dishes; and salads like hot duck and potato.

And no dinner would compete without a selection of homemade ice creams, floats and milkshakes topped with whipped cream and sprinkles that Daughter’s Diner has definitely covered! To top it all off there is a very impressive selection of beers, ciders and wines, even kombucha and seltzer.

We chatted with husband and wife duo, chef at co-owners Keven Wilson and PR, marketing guru Justyna Wilson about restaurant inspiration, COVID hubs and more. Here’s what they had to say.

What was the inspiration for Daughter’s Diner? Where does the name come from?

Our daughter was the inspiration behind the name. We have a four year old daughter Mila (she loves coming to the restaurant for her milkshakes with nuggets). Also, we wanted the concept of the restaurant to be family-friendly and accessible, and we wanted the name to reflect that.

The idea behind the restaurant was something Keven and I have been talking about for years. We wanted to create a friendly and family place where everyone is welcomed. Keven had fond memories of his childhood with his family eating at restaurants on the East Coast (he’s from Connecticut). It always gives her warm and fuzzy feelings, the energy of a dinner party, the ambiance, the regulars. We thought Oakland needed a place like this. We wanted to serve the community with really good but achievable food.

Keven – you have been a chef in several top restaurants. What was the catalyst for opening your own restaurant (with your wife) in Oakland?

Keven always wanted to be the chef-owner at some point in his career, owning his own restaurant was always the plan because working in other great restaurants (Michael Mina, Perbacco, RN74, Picco, etc.) gave him the tools. and experience. to run his own house. Justyna’s background is in marketing, so it just felt natural to be a part of the project and help get the concept off the ground. The reason we opened in Oakland is because we wanted to serve the community in which we live. We are a family who wanted to open a family accommodation in a family town in which we live.

How did your previous dining experience prepare you for this?

Keven has worked in a wide variety of restaurants, from classics, French, Italian to food trucks and Michelin starred establishments. This wide range of experiences has given Keven a unique perspective on the food and service he hopes to bring to his own restaurant. This now translates to its own menu, each dish has some influence on previous kitchens and the kitchens in which it worked.

Keven has helped open other restaurants which has been an invaluable experience in knowing what to expect when opening your own establishment, not only financially, but also operationally and emotionally. Restaurants are multi-faceted operations and working in other locations exposed Keven to all aspects of this business, not just the kitchen.

You opened during the pandemic, was it difficult to stay afloat?

Since we don’t know what it’s like to not open during a pandemic, we have nothing to compare with that experience. Having said that, it was very difficult, as we started to gain momentum, the second wave of closures brought us back to week one. We are as ready as possible to weather the storm, but we hope that some solutions will come sooner rather than later. It’s just sad to see the industry tear apart all around us, but we believe the independent restaurant industry is a core part of American culture and we hope the community can’t wait to return to the food scene. .

How did you have to pivot? What have you changed?

Our original plan was to have a bustling and bustling packed hall. But due to the pandemic, apart from what everyone else is doing i.e. deliveries, take out, alfresco dining, take out options etc, we have tried to get creative with homemade pantry items and additional income sources like prepackaged foods, partnerships with preschools, outdoor gyms, etc.

Here is what was included in the gift: caramelized onion, spinach, roasted garlic, candied tomato, goat cheese frittata; French toast: seasonal fruit roasted with honey / maple syrup; homemade sausages; Applewood smoked bacon; hash browns; sour cream with smoked trout; cup of fresh fruit; pomegranate lavender yogurt; Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice; startup bakery cafe cake.

In the children’s Christmas breakfast gift were French toast sticks; Maple syrup; bites of scrambled eggs; Bacon; hash browns; cup of fresh fruit; hot chocolate; and a toy.

We also offered a New Years Eve dinner for two which was a huge success, we thought that since people cannot go out on this special day, they can at least enjoy a lovely meal at home.

Here’s what was in the NYE dinner: crab salad, roast chicken broth with truffle meatballs; Dry-aged New York entrecote with red wine juice; twice baked potato; Brussels sprouts; and chocolate cream puff. You can also add a bottle of Val de Mer Brut champagne or paddlefish caviar with hash browns.

We plan to continue to get creative with lunch, dinner and brunch combos that you can easily take home.

We’re also exploring a few other marketing channel ideas, but nothing to announce at this time. To be completely honest it’s hard to pivot in this scenario, at the end of the day we want to be a restaurant that serves food on plates and not in take out boxes, hopefully soon!

It is extremely difficult for us as we are a family business without the support of a catering group. It is our livelihood. We are extremely grateful for the community’s support so far. We feel love and we appreciate everyone who walks through this door.

What are you hoping for this new year?

We hope we can overcome this and become what we originally planned for a room full of regulars!

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