A DASH of Culinary Inspiration
Restaurateur Dayna McErlean's new micro-commissary kitchen caters to big culinary dreams with small budgets in Northeast Portland (and beyond).
Dayna McErlean is at it again. After playing a major role in transforming a humble strip along Northeast 30th and Killingsworth into a vibrant restaurant row, the owner of Yakuza and DOC (and investor in the spaces now home to Beast and Cocotte) has turned her sights on the under-the-radar neighborhood of Northeast 42nd with DASH, her new commissary-style kitchen.
The 550-square foot space offers a different take on the kitchen-for-rent model in Portland, a market dominated by Michael Madigan's "culinary incubator" KitchenCru (which offers nearly six times the cooking space).
While the KitchenCru model is an unequivocal success—having launched the careers of dozens of local artisans and Madigan's own Bowery Bagels—DASH provides the opportunity for start-up culinary artisans and chefs to make themselves at home. When cooks rent the DASH kitchen, it becomes their own: they are welcome to play their own music, offer retail space to the neighborhood, and use the building in creative ways—starting at just $10 an hour.
McErlean imagines pop-up dinners at DASH's 12-seat prep table, a makeshift coffeeshop and bakery in the mornings with cafe tables outside, cooking classes, recipe development for new restaurants, cocktail and wine tasting events, and private dinner parties. "It's basically a comfortable, utilitarian space for creative people," explains McErlean, "and an intimate environment for start-ups with big dreams and small budgets. Plus, it comes with access to an established community that can support them."
The small space is designed for both efficiency and comfort. Outfitted in McErlean's signature design style (think modern wood and metal details and recessed lighting for events), DASH currently features a 3-door freezer, 3-door fridge, butcher block and stainless work tables, a 6-burner range, a 24" Wolf grill, turbo convection ovens, a commercial dishwasher and more. McErlean is waiting to add more gadgets until she finds out what clients are looking for—she's aiming to build to suit the needs of anyone who's able to commit to a set amount of hours per month.
Current DASH clients include Tracy Olson of Random Order Bakery (who's using the space to sling out seasonal pies for the holidays), former DOC chef Paul Losch (currently testing recipes and preserving pickles), and a nose-to-tail butcher.
Eventually, McErlean aims to open an intimate micro-kitchen in every quadrant. But for now, DASH 1.0 is setting to transform the up-and-coming strip of Northeast 42nd into a space for community and culinary creativity with a bit more than a dash of style.