Early this winter, signs with bright yellow striping resembling the rays of the sun started popping up at the corner of Center Street and Fratney Street in Riverwest. The signs read “you are loved,” “ride bikes,” and “have fun.” They also painted the way to The Daily Bird, a pop-up coffee shop nested in Centro Cafe.
Artist Dan Zwart runs the shop, which opened in early April. Dan is a Milwaukee transplant with a love of painting — hence the signs. He also loves biking and of course Riverwest.
It took a little bit of neighborly love to get The Daily Bird running. For starters, Dan couldn’t get a bank loan to open up the shop. He says it took months of asking friends and family to get the money he needed to start the business.
“I was hitting up all my friends being like, ‘I got this idea. I think we could do a coffee shop,’” says Dan. “I put a lot of research into it. It took me six months of calling so many people being like, ‘Hey, you think you could help me out with this? I really think this will work.’”
Also integral to opening up the shop was Dan’s sobriety.
“The only reason all this is happening is because of my sobriety,” says Dan. “I wouldn’t have been able to pull all this off because it took a lot of work to get to this little point. It took an obscene amount of work.”
Dan’s sobriety is reflected in his paintings, too. The paintings that point to and surround the shop are outlets for Dan. Dan’s paintings have received love and attention on Instagram, where he creates supportive messages and also updates on what’s happening around the neighborhood like neighborhood cleanups.
Dan has plans to expand The Daily Bird outside of its current location into a building he’s helping fix up with the owners of Centro Cafe. The new space will serve as part coffee shop and part event space.
“It’s amazing what Dan’s doing,” says Patrick “Pat” Moore, owner of Centro Cafe. “His character is showing through his efforts with his signs and his promotion of his coffee shop. It’s more than coffee. It is the type of community you want.”