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Get Your Daily Dose

By Jenni Simcoe
Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010, at 04:26PM
Daily Dose Mikey Wally

Sarkis Vartanian and Christian Page stand in the doorway that will soon lead to Daily Dose

When Daily Dose opens in mid-January, owners Christian Page and Sarkis Vartanian plan to put their coffeehouse on the map as a “traditional European coffeehouse experience” Downtown. Judging by their location in an ivy-covered alley in the Arts District, they’ve accomplished the feel of Europe.

To say that Daily Dose will be just a coffee house may be misleading. The duo are bringing their local, sustainable food to the table. “D-Squared is our mascot,” Vartanian says of their logo that represents the “working man.” “When I was thinking about the brand Daily Dose, I thought everyone deserves good food, well-prepared, delicious food for a reasonable price,” said Vartanian.

When he started planning the coffee house concept two years ago, Vartanian planned on offering pastries and “a few sandwiches.” But then he met Page. The duo met at the Los Angeles Athletic Club and started hanging out together. “We were mad competitors on the squash court,” said Page.

Vartanian and Page talked about their separate business concepts that they were working on. Page had just graduated from USC’s Marshall School of Business and was planning a sustainable concept of his own. “To hear him talk about food with such passion draws you in,” said Vartanian. “Christian had the same kind of passion for food as I did about opening a restaurant.”

“Sarkis showed me a drawing of an oven he was going to build and I thought, I want to work there,” said Page. The two decided to expand the Daily Dose concept to include a broader menu that Page would execute.

Page’s passion for local sustainable foods goes back to his early childhood in Stamford, Connecticut, where he and his five siblings each got their own little spot in the garden so they could grow whatever they wanted. “We never really bought vegetables. We grew everything we ate. It was pretty awesome. We had beehives and used to sell the honey in the stores,” he said.

When Page visited his grandparents’ house as a child, he would hang out in the kitchen with his grandparents’ cooks. “I’d ask them ‘how did you do that?’ They put me on a little stool and taught me how to make things like a Scotch egg,” he said. “The food at our house was never quite as good as my grandparents, so I started cooking at home,” Page said.

His mom encouraged him to pursue cooking through middle school and high school through local cooking classes. His father wasn’t so enthused when Page said he wanted to attend the Culinary Institute of America, so Page ended up going to college for a bachelor’s degree in business. After college, Page moved to New York and was surrounded by great food. He worked in finance by day and at restaurants by night before deciding to attend culinary school at night to pursue his passion. After getting his Grand Diplome du Cuisine degree from the French Culinary Institute in New York, Page started a catering company in Manhattan. After five years of running Knives & Fire, he decided to move to Los Angeles to complete the MBA program at USC in Entrepreneurship.

While planning the menu at Daily Dose, Page and Vartanian have focused extensively on finding only local ingredients for the menu. “The most important thing about food is where it comes from,” said Page. He and Vartanian vow to visit each farm where they purchase produce or meat from to make sure it’s sustainable or in the case of beef, pork and poultry, that the animals were treated humanely. “I want to see that they are doing what they claim. If we visit a creamery for cheese, I ask where they get their milk from,” said Page. “You have to meet the people and see if you really want to do business with them, not just call a phone number to order 10 pounds of pork belly,” he added.

“A lot of restaurants go to the farmers’ market and get meat and vegetables and say that they are a farm to table restaurant. But I think all the meats that are commercially available are disgusting. All of our meat is humanely treated and almost everything is pastured in its natural environment and bred naturally,” said Page. He says that eating proteins that haven’t been bred sustainably is the nutritional equivalent of eating cardboard. “You are what you eat,” he said.

Everything on the Daily Dose menu will be made from scratch. “We make our own ketchup, mustard, sauces, grow our own herbs. We even make our bread from scratch,” said Vartanian.

“We want to teach the masses that food starts with the ingredients. I think people just look at packaging rather than ingredients,” said Vartanian. “Food doesn’t have to be complicated. Look at sushi for example. Good sushi is three ingredients and it’s so simple that you can taste each ingredient,” he added.

The menu includes coffee from Intelligentsia and pastries baked daily. Breakfast includes quiche, pastries and granola. Sample lunch options include a local dry cured ham and jack sandwich with house pickles and whole grain mustard; Cali combo sandwich with local charcuterie, oven dried tomato vinaigrette and sauce vert; and “The Big Soup” with heirloom beans and vegetables topped with Marcona almond pesto. Sample dinner entrees include heritage chicken cassoulet, heirloom beans, and basil-mint pistou; crispy lamb meatballs with smashed fingerling potatoes and goat cheese mornay purple cabbage with hazelnuts; and a wood grilled grassfed burger with Midnight Moon cheese, home ketchup garlic aioli and pickles.

Daily Dose will be open Monday through Friday from 7am to 11pm and 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Dinner will be a prix fixe menu limited to a certain amount of plates each night. A prix fixe brunch will be available on Sunday. “Our menu will be one thing each night for dinner that will change daily,” said Page.

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