Daily Driver is the only place that manufactures organic, wood-fired bagels in San Francisco, also the only creamery in the city making butter and cheese. Based in the American Industrial Center in the Dogpatch neighborhood, the cafe & restaurant opened in June 2019 and is quickly becoming a morning and lunch staple for locals, with plans to deliver their products to more businesses in the near future.

The company was co-founded in 2018 by two couples of friends, and aims at educating urban eaters as to how much labor and love goes into simple food items that they eat every day, in part by making the food production process completely transparent. It stems from its owners’ other project, Toluma Farms in Marin County.

Daily Driver counts 17 full-time and 9 part-time team members today, and expects to create another 10 in the next 12 months. SFMade interviewed Daily Driver’s Co-Founder, Tamara Hicks, in September 2019.

COMPANY FACTSHEET Daily Driver
Full-time employees 17
Part-time employees 9
Founded in 2018
Useful links Website, Instagram
Address 2535 3rd St, SF. Open W-F 6a-3p and S-S 7a-3p

Wife and husband Tamara Hicks and David Jablons, in their farm in Marin County. Photo credit Brian Desimone.

 

Tamara, what is your background, and how did you and your co-founders start Daily Driver?
It all started with Toluma Farms and two couples of friends, but you should read the article put together by Tablehopper for more details!

[Here is an excerpt from the article: Daily Driver comes from two couples: Tamara Hicks and David Jablons of Toluma Farms and Tomales Farmstead Creamery in West Marin (which they started 15 years ago), and Hadley and David Kreitz — Hadley has been working on the farm for five years, working as cheesemaker, herdswoman, and events coordinator, and has perfected the European-style cultured butter and cream cheese, using milk from Jersey cows from Marshall Home Ranch & Dairy. David Kreitz is an industrial designer who built the farm’s wood-fired oven and managed the construction of Daily Driver, and developed the bagel recipe we’re going to be thanking him for soon enough.]

We started Daily Driver with the belief that it is only with the type of education and transparency we want that people will learn the true costs of clean and healthy food. Our farmers and chefs are struggling to make it financially throughout the Country and it is important to us to try and help solve that problem.

I am sorry to mention another publication but for more background on the farm and all of us, I feel like a recent article in Edible Marin-Sonoma really captured well the answer to the question. You’ll have to read through it all to get the complete story!

Chef Martin Siggins & Co-Founder / Bagel Master David Kreitz

 

Who are your main clients today?
We have been pleasantly surprised to see lots and lots of families coming into Daily Driver. Many breakfast and brunch spots in the Bay Area tend to be tiny and so it seems families are enjoying the large space and all of the family-friendly food items and amenities, like board games, high chairs, changing tables and lots of bathrooms.

Our business model is also very much based on wholesale and catering accounts. We have half a dozen large wholesale accounts teed up and ready to go, and had to get all of our staffing in place to kick wholesale off — and as of September 1st we have that all in place.

We have enjoyed our catering orders to neighbors such as UCSF Medical Center and had fun dropping off an order at the Ballpark… not to the SF Giants but to the Phillies when
they were playing the Giants! We will be also supplying bagels to the Moscone Center and to Dropbox’s new site in Mission Bay.

Central bagel chute and display, right behind the counter

 

How would you describe your company’s core values?
I spend a lot of time thinking about this and with every decision I make (even what toilet paper to buy), I try and run it through our core values filter. That always makes the decision so much easier. The core values have really grown out of developing them over that last 16 years at our farm and creamery in West Marin. In a nutshell, they are:

  • Sustainable to ensure that all the humans and food sources participating are doing so in the most sustainable way. For instance, all the food we source must be made with regenerative agriculture practices as we don’t want any aspect of our footprint to be sacrificed.
  • Transparent — I believe that everyone working for Daily Driver has a right to know about all aspects of our business, which includes finances or any other aspect that informs them about the company they are working for. One of the main reasons we brought Daily Driver to SF is to continue our work with transparent food systems. Everything we do is out in the open so folks can learn about what it takes to make a sustainable product. We also encourage people to visit us at the farm so they can learn about the incredible agriculture community in West Marin.
  • Kind — My kids who are now 24 and 20 know that this is a big one for me and really does guide most decisions. I feel you often have two options with working with other humans and that is to build them up or take them down. In absolutely every interaction I and we try to build up our team members.
  • Engaging and stimulating work — I really love how Millennials are demanding stimulating and engaging work for themselves. They want to be learning at all times and I applaud that. When someone is bored, to me this is a problem having to do with something we are doing, and not something they are doing.

Window into the Daily Driver creamery, so every visitor / customer can see how butter & cheese are made

 

What skills are your employees learning on the job?
Our This feeds into my last answer. When hiring, I am always looking for someone who loves learning, is curious and, as I said before, kind (that is, with a high EQ). You can teach most skills on the job but you can’t teach kindness.

We really encourage bakers to make butter in the creamery and for front of the house folks to learn bagel making. Our Event Director, Kate, has occasionally worked for the farm just to learn more about that system. We have loved that most of our team members have taken us up on the cross-training and are jumping around to learn new skills.

Red Bay Coffee [who operate a roaster inside Daily Driver’s facility, and staff part of the cafe] will be conducting a training in the Fall to teach our team about coffee sourcing and making. We pay for 2 workshops or conferences a year for each team member so they can keep learning outside of our walls. This has been a good practice at the farm since it is also an opportunity for networking, and that is good for the entire business.

 

What should we look forward to from you?
We will certainly be rolling our some smaller Daily Drivers in the Bay Area!! Stay tuned!

Why manufacture locally?
David and I have lived in Potrero Hill for 15 years and LOVE this neighborhood. We also have many colleagues and friends who have been making food in the American Industrial Center building for years, such as Nana Joes Granola, Kara’s Cupcakes, Michael Recchuiti, Magnolia Brewing… and they all love the building owner and management team. We knew if we were going to have a chance at a successful start it would be in the Dogpatch where neighbors are wanting more food options and in this amazing building that has such an incredible manufacturing history. [a building that you can tour, along with Daily Driver’s facility, on October 4th during SFMade Week! More info here.]

 

Why did you join SFMade, and how has SFMade helped the most?
I joined since Michelle (founder and owner of Nana Joes Granola) said the organization has been incredibly helpful to her business for networking and support. We admire what she has created and so basically do anything she tells us to do! [laughs]

~ An interview by Pierre @ SFMade.