Like Monk’s Restaurant, Central Perk, or the Peach Pit, some spots are simply—due to some certain, coffee-coated je ne sais quoi—the place to meet up, sit down, and hang out. And while it’s rare that a new eatery in town instantly exudes the same sense of staying power present in one that’s been frequented for years, some places just have that good vibe/good food formula down pat. Luckily for coffee drinkers and early eaters citywide, such is the vibe at The Dayroom, the new offshoot from the creator of Em’s.
When Emily Gassmann (most Salt Lakers will know her as “Em”) nixed the brunch menu at her Capitol Hill restaurant, and when the coffee shop leasing the adjoining space boxed up and moved down the Ballpark area, it was clear there was a definite daytime void to be filled. So she teamed up with Elaine Sayer (coffee and front of house manager) and Milo Carrier (heading up the kitchen) to create an early morning/afternoon cafe…
the perfectly casual complement to Em’s dinner service, The Dayroom was born.
The exterior is unassuming in an “instant classic” sort of way, with just a punch of pink—by way of patio furniture and the spot’s cheers-ing logo—to hint at the calming and, really, quite cute, interior. Inside is refreshing, bright, and brimming with a quiet harmony. A striking and delightful mural by Milo’s sister, Alyce Carrier, is met with a backsplash of mismatched tile, and the whole look rounds out a space entirely conducive to getting lost in a good book and a flat white for hours. And the menu? It’s good. A mix of surprising and simple brekky foods dot the list, including breakfast tostadas, yogurt and granola, Our Bagel (topped with cured trout and cultured cream) and a (very good and very shareable) Ham and Cheese sandwich. Serving coffee and tea as well as natural wine, beer, and spirits alongside their early bird and afternoon eats, The Dayroom is decidedly a breath of fresh brunch. We chatted with a few of the eatery’s key players about your new fav spot to spend the morning…
The Dayroom | 271 N. Center Street
We know why we need the Dayroom (Savory French Toast, a mimosa, and a cappuccino), but why did you decide we needed the Dayroom? Elaine: I was working with Em at the restaurant and we began thinking up the idea of a day-cafe to compliment her evening space. I’ve been in the coffee scene for years and I’ve always felt as if Salt Lake City was slightly missing a spot focused just as much on comfort as it is on quality. I think [the food industry] find ourselves leaning towards one or the other, setting the kind of tone that the two cannot live in harmony… That’s not for me and that’s never been the way Em has run her restaurant either.
The Dayroom is meant to be a space to hang out, to meet your friends, have a work meeting, try a new natural wine, a new food item you’ve never had before, or ask the baristas questions about coffee! We exist as a space that hopefully everyone can find a home in and if they want to dip their toe into our world of craft food and beverage, they can. We will be there with open arms either way.
Tell us about this daydream-inducing interior, would you? Elaine: When Em and I were designing the cafe…we wanted it to be light, and colorful, and FUN. I’d love to continue to offer the space for [the art and creative] community to flourish, so if anyone is interested in using the Dayroom space for evening shows…get in touch with me.
Has the clientele differed from that of Em’s brunch? Has it differed from what you expected? Elaine: The clientele primarily present at The Dayroom has been one of the most fun and surprising aspects of this project! Most of Em’s clientele have been regulars since the beginning and they’re very supportive. I think that has translated over well with The Dayroom, though I do think when they come in, they’re pleasantly surprised at how different it is from what they’re accustomed to. Em made a joke one day about how on one side, we have Em’s serving the older upper class of Salt Lake City and on the other side, we have The Dayroom selling natural wine to skater boys. The best part about it is that these upper class regulars at Em’s can find familiarity and feel comfortable at the cafe and vise-versa for the skater boys at Em’s. It’s really something special.
The menu here is truly something unexpected and special. What’s the inspiration behind the items? Milo: The inspiration for the menu is multifaceted. I spent the better part of the last decade working in San Francisco, where there exists such an incredible intersection of ideas and influences across cultures and styles. That experience brought an opportunity to source hyper-local produce and create menus that responded to their availability. This practice instilled a firm belief that food should reflect the more traditional fluctuations of the seasons and the menu should be as nimble and agile as the availability of a product dictates. Our menu shifts and evolves depending on what food tastes best, or grows best during whichever season. Additionally, I feel food is more fun when ingredients and dishes draw influence from a variety of places. While there are traditional practices that remain sacred, there are no hard guidelines when it comes to combining flavors across cuisines. We strive to cook food that makes sense for the place it is being served. Blending, borrowing, and breaking rules inspires us daily.