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Inside Daily Grinds, the light is airy and cool on gray wood paneling, a wall of greenery, and a simple white countertop. Guests stop by the Hall Park eatery expecting cortados, mochas, and maybe a little pumpkin spice lattes.
They don’t expect the BLTE, a bacon, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and fried egg stacked sandwich, or Avocado Tartine, toasted sourdough with avocado, citrus supreme, and house-made lemon agave vinaigrette, much less vermicelli noodle salad. They’ll be surprised by the warm, toasty breakfast croissants: soft scrambled eggs with spicy aioli, or smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers layered delicately inside.
They certainly don’t expect a compact pastry menu that puts the Starbucks’ versions of “croissants” and “scones” to complete and utter shame.
Daily Grinds is a small, family-owned Frisco bistro on Gaylord Parkway. Frisco Star is a few feet North, and Hall Park is across the street, sculptures visible through the front windows.
Chef and co-owner John Tran likes it that way.
When he quit his office job and opened Daily Grinds with his sister and brother-in-law’s investment behind him, he didn’t picture himself running a coffee shop. Tran considers it a bistro, a cafe, a patisserie, but says that coffee, as a concept, “sells itself.”
Tran was drawn to the culinary world because it is both precise but also creative. It helps him come up with new flavors and presentations to bring to life with his classic fine dining background. He got his first job in fine dining at 16, though he was relegated to peeling potatoes and onions.
The chefs he worked with all had a French background, and it was working with them that turned his interest in cooking into a passion, particularly for finicky, technical, and layered pastries.
By the end of his tutelage, he had two degrees, one in culinary arts and one in business, and no idea what to do with them.
Daily Grinds was the answer.
They had their soft opening near the end of Fall 2019. “We chose Frisco because it’s an up and coming place that is still up and coming, culture is being built,” he says. He wanted to be on the ground floor, one of a network of innovative chefs who would come to Frisco, drawn by its growth, and elevate Frisco’s culinary scene beyond commercial chains.
January was a good month for their business, and so was February. They were building a crew of dedicated regulars and enjoyed foot traffic from people who worked in the office buildings of Hall Park. March, which is usually a profitable month for restaurants, was poised to be their best yet.
And then the world shut down.
“It’s been a trip,” Tran says. “2020 has been wild. How do you plan for this?”
Tran tries not to get stuck in self-pity because he knows that everyone, every restaurant in the area, every business, has been going through the same gauntlet of uncertainty. “But still, it was painful,” he admits.
Instead, they have had to close down some of their precious few tables and have lost the Hall Park foot traffic they had counted on. They’ve also had to sign up on Doordash, Grubhub and the like, which Trans calls necessary evils for the sake of name recognition.
It’s remained a small family operation. Most days, it’s just Tran working behind the counter, though his girlfriend, Kendall, who is a NICU nurse in Houston, drives up when she has a chunk of off days to help out. So when a woman walks in, even through the mask, Tran and his girlfriend both recognize her and call out greetings. In the background, she and Kendall chat like old friends at the counter while she orders.
The menu at Daily Grinds is fresh and flavorful, with bahn mi and fried chicken breakfast sandwiches, but of everything—even the coffee sourced from Eiland Roasters, a single origin roaster in Richardson—Tran’s pride is his pastries, particularly croissants, which take up half the small pastry menu, and are featured in all their breakfast sandwiches.
“With pastries, everything has to be perfect, every metric has to be right,” Tran explains.
For example, he knows for sure that every single croissant he produces has exactly 36 layers and takes three days. He laminates his homemade dough with European butter instead of American butter, because it has a higher fat content and lower water content, and customers can taste the difference.
Though scones are new from him, the blueberry scone is tender and ultra-buttery. The blueberries baked inside are almost carmelized, and the sugar icing topping cracks like very thin ice with every bite. The almond croissant is a revelation in texture and subtle flavor. Neither the sliced almonds or the frangipane, almond pastry cream mask the purity of European butter.
Despite the uncertainty the pandemic has brought, Tran is excited to bring a few new options to the menu. A new brunch menu is on the horizon, and so are mille-feuille, extremely layered pastries with cream filling between them, similar to a Napoleon. He remains optimistic about the future for his shop as well as the other local chefs, baristas, and bakers he knows in the area.
“Frisco needs more of us,” Tran says. “We’re trying to produce something meaningful and valuable to the community. Hopefully we’re on to something.”
- Mon | Closed
- Tues – Fri | 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Sat – Sun | 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Where: 6750 Gaylord Pkwy. Ste. 130, Frisco
More: 469.777.3200 | dailygrindscoffee.com