The influx of high-end Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants in Miami obscures something: that people have been cooking such food here for a long time.
Nicolas Mazzawi’s father opened The Daily Bread in Pinecrest, in South Miami, 45 years ago. Originally a market with a small take-out menu, over time they expanded into its current form: a counter-service restaurant with an open kitchen and a menu of over 40 items that showcase flavors not only from the family’s ancestral home of Nazareth, Israel, but across the Middle East. You enter to shop for groceries—spices, nuts, olives, Syrian teas—and are quickly tempted by the aromas emanating from the deli case and counter containing prepared dishes: lamb and beef gyro, oregano-flecked salad, chicken marinated in mustard and turmeric, vegan- friendly falafel, and fried kibbe, oval-shaped croquettes made of a crispy cracked wheat shell filled with seasoned ground beef and onions.
“It is all about consistency,” says Mazzawi, who grew up stocking shelves in the space and now runs it with his brother, Shaddy. “I always find when a new business or restaurant starts up, they are good, but after some time the quality and service go down. Restaurants start cutting corners when things get expensive, they try to find cheaper alternatives, but for us quality is a priority. We know customers will notice if the food isn’t consistent and high quality.”
Though nearly half a century old, the operation is a perpetual work in progress. “The restaurant is now around 60 to 70 percent of our business, with the market is around 30 percent of our customers,” says Mazzawi. “A lot of people come in for food and then end up buying items from the market to make at home.” Along with his brother, he is constantly working to fine tune the business—not because they feel the pressure of competition, per se, but because they are propelled by a shared pride. “We used to order our bread from some companies and we noticed it wasn’t very fresh, so now we make it in-house,” says Mazzawi as one of many examples. “We are always trying to improve.”