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Operator Spotlight: Zachary Conine

Daily Kitchen LogoLEV Restaurant Group owns and operates a variety of quick-service and casual dining concepts in Las Vegas, including Daily Kitchen & Wellness Bar (dkeatery.com), a fast-casual health-focused concept. Conine, a strategic hospitality expert, is vice president of research, analysis and development for LEV. With Daily Kitchen & Wellness Bar, Conine and his partners aim to bring great tasting, better-for-you food choices to the masses.

Why did you start Daily Kitchen?  We all live in Las Vegas and all have a desire to make better food choices. There are a lot of options that are tasty, but not a lot of places focus on better choices. We wanted to not only make a place where people could have better-for-you food, but a place where good food tastes good.

What does ‘better-for-you-food’ mean to you?  That means ingredients that go into it. Whole grains versus processed grains. Super foods. More greens, less dairy, but not no dairy. Everything in moderation because the other thing turns people off.

What ingredients do you see the most demand for?  A lot of interest in turkey bacon, over regular bacon. We’re using tofu a lot. Things like quinoa. Things like kale. Our I LOVE Chopped Salad, which is full of super foods, pumpkin seeds, pinto beans. 

How else do you use beans besides in Chopped Salad? We use beans of all sorts in our dishes. One of our favorite beans is the Edamame that shows up in our Edamame Pot Stickers. Edamame beans are high in protein and low in fat.

How do you use hummus? We use hummus as a focus on some menu items and as a complement to others. One of our most popular wraps is our Mediterranean Wrap, which uses a combination of hummus and quinoa to support grilled chicken, cucumber, mint, parsley and tomato. We’ve found that hummus can be a great alternative to mayonnaise because it provides all the benefits of chic peas and helps to bind other items in a wrap.

How do you keep the menu on trend? We’re constantly going to the local Downtown 3rd Farmers Market in Downtown Las Vegas to talk with farmers and agricultural innovators. We read voraciously and look for upcoming trends. There’s also plenty of experimenting when we hear about a new ingredient, method or idea.

Who are your customers?  We’re going for people who like to eat and who are looking for something they could eat daily. A lot of families of various types. We do get our fair share of hard-core healthy types.

What are the most popular dishes at Daily Kitchen? “We wanted to not only make a place where people could have better-for-you food, but a place where good food tastes good.” Our smoothies, fresh juice blends have been very popular. Our Tuscan Kale Salad is typically our most popular salad. Kale is really good for you, has a unique flavor, unique texture. We do a lot of meatballs. Turkey meatball sandwich, turkey meatball pasta.

What is your favorite item on the menu?  I’m partial to the Captain Planet, a mixture of all of our juices. Cucumber, kale, spinach, apple, lemon, orange, carrot, beet, ginger. I always get one.