APEX Insight: Newark Liberty International Airport’s recently opened Daily is the world’s first airport restaurant to feature a menu, comprised of local and seasonal ingredients, that changes every day.
Big changes are underway at United Airlines’ Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport, as part of the carrier’s $120-million upgrade of food and beverage concessions by New York-based OTG Management. The newest restaurant to open under this program is Daily, the world’s first airport restaurant to feature a menu that changes every day. Chef Matt Jennings oversees a menu that is 100 percent seasonal, based on ingredients found at farmers’ markets and local food suppliers in New York and New Jersey.
OTG CEO Rick Blatstein was intrigued by the thought of having a chef buy what looks great and cook it that day. “The thought was if I were a chef and had hundreds of people coming to my restaurant I would want to make the best food and create an experience that has never been done in an airport,” he said. “To me, that’s a journey.”
Daily opens at 5:30 a.m. for breakfast. “The chef and his team will make food runs several times a day and will buy food a day or two before,” said Blatstein. “With our operating systems on iPads, the chef can change the menu in seconds,” he said. “If he runs out of any items, he can change midstream and come up with something new.” The restaurant is currently serving a lot of fall season items, like mushrooms, apples and artisanal squashes, that are being incorporated into dishes.
“With our operating systems on iPads, the chef can change the menu in seconds.” – Rick Blatstein, OTG
At the center of the restaurant is a woodburning oven. “We grill our fish, meats and vegetables in it. Scent is a big trigger. When you smell wood burning and delicious food being cooked, it gets you right away,” said Blatstein. Some of the items that have appeared on the menu so far include a three-egg arugula and heirloom tomato omelette, a smoked duck cavatappi with figs and Grana Padano cheese and an ancho mushroom wrap with black bean puree, pickled onion and cotija cheese.
Although Daily has only been open since early October, it’s already inspiring chefs at other OTG restaurants, said Blatstein. “It has opened their eyes to new ideas,” he said. Blatstein and his daughter ate at Daily recently and had what he called one of the best meals he had had in his life. “We had a pizza with a pesto crust that was delicious. But I can’t recommend it, because it won’t be there since the menu changes every day,” he said.
What’s exciting about Daily is that we don’t care about the food and labor costs, said Blatstein. “I said let’s do this thing and make great food for our customers,” he said. “It has already taken off, and you can’t get in. It’s taken off dramatically, even bigger than I ever expected.”