For first-time business owners, John and Rosa Paradiso have situated themselves in quite the competitive landscape.
The downtown Durham block where they will soon open The Daily Beer Bar already harbors four bars within a 50-foot radius: 106 Main, a neighborhood staple where the drinks are potent and keenly priced; Bar Virgile, a cozy, classy joint with French food and upscale cocktails; Killer Queen, an eclectic watering hole for the wine inclined; and Bad Machines, an esports bar slated to open in coming weeks.
But the Paradisos aren’t worried about losing customers to neighboring bars, as the Daily—which is scheduled to open late next month in the space formerly occupied by Talk of the Town—will fill a different niche.
Branded as an “all-day cafe,” the Daily will operate threefold as a bar, coffeeshop, and casual eatery, offering a morning menu of local pastries and coffee drinks and an afternoon and evening spread of sandwiches, salads, snacks, sodas, juices, wine, and beer. Since the space doesn’t have a kitchen, the Daily’s sandwiches will be prepared in a panini press behind the bar, and its other food items will be pre-assembled.
With exposed brick walls, high and low wooden tables, plush green barstools, a couch, and early morning-to-late evening hours, the space is designed to be warm and accommodating for a broad array of customers.
Initially, the Daily will be open Wednesday through Sunday, but the Paradisos intend to eventually offer service every day of the week, as the bar’s name implies.
“We’re trying to lean on that old school idea of, like, you go to your daily spot,” John says.
The name is also a nod to John’s journalistic background: a professional beer writer, he previously worked as the managing editor of digital beer magazine Hop Culture and has covered the beverage scenes in Boston, New York, and the Triangle (including for the INDY Week) as a freelancer.
This expertise—supplemented by the hundreds of hours he spent managing a pop-up beer bar in Pittsburgh during the pandemic and bartending at Raleigh’s State of Beer and Durham’s J Lights in recent years—will inform the Daily’s unique beer selection.
“A lot of the bars in this area tend to focus on more or less the same breweries—a heavy focus on local,” John says. “In my mind, I thought what could be really compelling is to have a much more curated, pared-down list that showcases some of the best breweries in North Carolina along with some of the less accessible, out-of-state options.”
John’s wife, Rosa, is also bringing some experience to the table. Several years ago, Rosa inherited partial ownership of her late aunt’s bed-and-breakfast in Tuscany, Italy, and has since helped to remotely manage the B&B’s backend operations. She’s gained skills that will assist her in helming the business side of the Daily, she says.
The Paradisos, who both hail from New Jersey, moved to the Triangle in 2020 and tied the knot earlier this year.
While their move was sparked by Rosa’s acceptance into a Ph.D. program at UNC, it also set John on a path to fulfilling his longtime dream of opening the Daily; upon relocating, he says, he discovered that Durham is a vibrant, dynamic, community-oriented city to open a bar.
That said, the Durham location does come with a downside: North Carolina’s archaic liquor laws.
“We fall in this weird middle ground where, because we are making our own food, we can’t qualify as just a straight-up bar, but because we aren’t a full kitchen, we don’t qualify as a restaurant,” John says. “That combination, according to state law, means that we can’t serve spirits.”
But beer is the Daily’s focus, so John feels okay about holding off on cocktails until legislation changes, he says.
And anyway, all things considered, it’s a relatively good time to be opening a bar in Durham.
The city council recently approved the creation of a downtown “social district,” which will soon allow people to drink alcoholic beverages—sold by local purveyors, like the Daily, in labeled plastic to-go cups—while they walk around in a designated area.
“The social district is really exciting news, especially because of where we are on Main Street—there are so many good spots,” John says. “Maybe down the line, we can work with [other businesses] to make some sort of bar crawl passport situation where they come to each spot.”
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.
Comment on this story at email@example.com.