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Daniel McLaughlin | Lessons from GreatPHL

Daniel grew up in an environment that prepared him perfectly for a career in hospitality – but not in the way you might expect. Diversity wasn’t always seen as a good thing, which meant that thinking, looking, or feeling differently was bound to create unwanted friction.

Between his hyper-religious home environment and a harsh public school environment, Daniel learned that keeping other people happy was a surefire self-preservation technique – one that he had plenty of time to master throughout grade school and high school.

“I understood that if I could make everyone else around me feel comfortable, that they would leave me alone, and that they would forget to pick on me or hit me, and I could just..be.”

When he entered the restaurant industry, Daniel was again thrown into a new environment in which he had to adapt, but this time, his past experiences equipped him. Daniel thrived naturally as a server in several Philadelphia restaurants as he learned the ropes in the food industry. This path eventually led him to open his own restaurant, Mission Taqueria, which is now a hub for artist collaborations, LGBTQ events, and other community-building events.

“I’ve grown up with Philadelphia and Philadelphia grew up with me … It allowed me to be me.”

Daniel talks about some of the most formative experiences in his personal life and early career, including being offered a job by one of the most influential people in the Philadelphia restaurant scene.