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All-Day Cafe and Beer Bar Opening Soon in Downtown Durham

Find coffee in the morning and beer in the afternoon at the Daily Beer Bar in Durham

A man and a woman in front of plywood sign saying “coming soon.”
John and Rosa Paradiso in front of the Daily Beer Bar.
Andrew Albright

It’s been years since Talk of the Town (108 East Main Street, Durham) closed on the eastern periphery of downtown Durham. The shotgun-style storefront of the popular jazz club and lounge has sat vacant since then, its large glass facade on East Main Street boarded up to shut out the outside world. But in a matter of weeks — ideally by early October — two newlyweds aim to fill the void.

The Daily Beer Bar, a new project from beer writer and bartender John Paradiso and his wife and UNC PhD student Rosa, will serve much more than beer. Designed as an all-day cafe, it will function as a coffeeshop in the morning with hot and cold drinks served by Yonder Coffee in Raleigh and pastries from local bakeries. At lunchtime, “the Daily” will switch to more of a deli vibe with “a simple sandwich and salad menu,” with an array of beer and wine taking center stage before the day’s end.

The bar and cafe will feature 12 taps, and as the name suggests, focus heavily on beer. With Killer Queen Wine Bar across the street, John doesn’t want to lean too far into wine, but said they’ll serve a few crowd-pleasing natural wines. With the city awash in local craft beer — including next door at bottle shop 106 Main and multiple breweries within walking distance — the Daily will prioritize out of state and international beer “that isn’t readily available.”

“I’d rather have something on tap that you otherwise wouldn’t get to try,” he said. Still, patrons will be able to find beers from some local favorites like Ponysaurus and Trophy, as well as nonalcoholic options like kombucha.

The Daily is the realization of a long-held dream for John, the former managing editor of beer site Hop Culture who’s also worked as a bartender at State of Beer in Raleigh and J Lights Market & Cafe in Durham. Before moving to the Triangle, he opened and managed a pop-up beer bar in Pittsburgh at the height of the pandemic, learning about scheduling, ordering, and other key aspects of running a business like the Daily. That set him up to pursue this idea, Rosa said, but he still needed a push.

“John is a very careful and methodical planner,” she said. “I’d been hearing about this plan for years.” So one night with friends over for dinner at their Durham home, she gave him the push he needed. “Halfway through dinner I was just like, ‘John is opening a bar!’ And he rolled with it.”

Rosa — a dual Italian citizen — said the U.S. lacks the kind of all-day cafes with multiple functions that are ubiquitous in Italy. And with minimal coffee available downtown, Durham is begging for something like this, she added.

“This is my weekend and weeknight project,” she said. But during the day, she’ll show up for the coffee as she digs into work for her environmental sciences and engineering PhD program. “I’ll be one of those people working out of the bar in the mornings.”

The Daily Beer Bar will include a minimal retail component but will focus on on-site consumption. A couple sidewalk tables will complement the barstools and two-tops towards the front of the space, while some larger group tables and couches towards the back will offer a more private, cozy experience. Light pours in from large windows on the front and back, adding to the “bright, open, airy” vibe John hopes to elicit. To start, the Daily will operate Wednesday through Sunday and pay employees a $15/hour base rate (plus tips), with the goal of operating daily as the name suggests and offering salaried employment, John said.

The Paradisos were attracted to the location in part because it’s an older building with features like the original hardwood floors intact rather than a new construction, mixed-use development. The history of the space, as well as the trajectory of the immediate neighborhood suggested by Killer Queen’s opening and proliferating apartment buildings, also drew them in.

“We know we’re not going to replace it, but hopefully we can still be a community hub the way Talk of the Town was,” Rosa said.