Daniel’s Broiler Not Leaving Lake Union, But Who Is Daniel Anyway?

Daniels Broiler, situated on the shores of Lake Union, has been a Seattle landmark of fine dining for what seems like forever. With its sweeping views of Lake Union, Queen Anne and Gasworks Park in addition to its incredible menu of USDA prime steaks and chops, all prepared impeccably, Daniel’s has always been the go-to venue for holiday and celebratory meals, fine craft cocktails and some of the best steaks you’ll ever enjoy.

Recently, people have been up in arms as rumors swirled regarding the possible closing of Daniel’s Lake Union location, due to Vulcan Real Estate’s plans to redevelop the pier on which it sits. Those fears were somewhat put to rest this week when the Seattle Times reported that Daniel’s on Lake Union will not close, but will merely move to a nearby location, still along the shores of South Lake Union. It seems fabulous steaks and sweeping Lake Union vistas will remain on Daniel’s menu for years to come, and we’ll drink to that!

Over the years, Daniel’s Broiler has become a local fine dining legend in the Seattle area, synonymous with delicious, high-end meals, superb craft cocktails, incredible views and live music, outstanding service and a seemingly never ending parade of Seattle’s most interesting and beautiful people to be found on any given night, enjoying a bite or a sip. However, many of us who have grown up in the Seattle area, (particularly those of us under a certain age) know very little of the famed steakhouse’s origins.

Daniel’s has been owned and operated by The Schwartz Brothers Restaurant group since 1981, and has changed very little since its beginnings at the Leschi Marina in 1980, but it’s true roots go much deeper than that. Daniel’s Broiler was started by a man named, well, Daniel, believe it or not. Daniel Jack Sandal, to be specific.

Daniel Sandal, a born and bred Seattleite, grew up in The Emerald City’s Wallingford neighborhood, graduated from the now closed Lincoln High School, and got his start in the food industry at the World-Famous Pike Place Market. Daniel’s Grandfather, Dan Zido, founded “Dan’s Better Meats” in Pike Place Market in 1910, and it was there, (in a space at the market that is now known as the home of Italian favorite, Il Bistro) that Daniel began his love affair with meat, as a third-generation butcher.

Eventually the butcher shop moved upstairs in the market, to where you will now find “Don and Joe’s Meats” (unsurprisingly, Don and Joe are related to Dan, and have kept the family tradition of quality cuts alive in Pike Place). Dan took over the family business when his father retired and decided to expand their wholesale business drastically, with their meats soon being featured at Seattle’s finest restaurant, including Canlis, The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, The Space Needle and plenty more. He also started a daily-delivered, fresh-ground meat patty service for local favorite burger joint, Dick’s Drive-In, helping to make those burgers we all know and love so darn scrumptious.

In the Early 1970’s, Dan began his foray into the restaurant world as a restaurateur himself, co-founding Benjamin’s with partner Arnold Shain. The success of Benjamin’s fueled Dan and Arnold to continue on in the restaurant game, with the opening of The Gasworks Restaurant, but eventually, they parted ways as partners.

In 1980, at the ripe, young age of 40, Daniel decided it was time to start his own place, a place for steaks and chops so terrific, people would fall in love, and that they did. The vision for the original Daniels Broiler was to be Dan’s own take on the fine dining he had grown up with in Seattle, drawing heavy inspiration from places like Canlis, but staying true to the steakhouse theme with top quality steaks and chops consistently available and prepared perfectly.

Daniel’s was a sort of experiment for Dan, as he had only ever opened and operated restaurants with partners prior to Daniel’s Broiler. He was once quoted as saying “I wanted to see if I could do it, I did it on my own so I didn’t have to deal with other’s dreams and problems and wouldn’t be at anyone else’s mercy.” And do it, he did. Daniel’s Broiler became a success from the very beginning, in its original home, located on the glistening shores of Lake Washington in the Leschi Marina.  At the time, this was a convenient location for Mercer Island and Bellevue residents, until they closed the I-90 entrance and exit on the east side of the tunnels when the second bridge was built.  Today, the original Daniel’s location serves the Mount Baker, Leschi, Madrona, Washington Park, Madison Park and Denny Blaine neighborhoods and a slew of long-time customers. 

Since being purchased by the Schwartz Brothers in late 1981, they have made very few changes to Dan Sandal’s original concept for the restaurant. The Schwartz Brothers did expand the Daniel’s brand to include locations in Bellevue (opening in 1989) and the location we all know and love, on the shores of Lake Union (since 1999), where Dan and Arnold’s first venture, Benjamin’s, once lived.

Dan Sandal passed away in 2012, but left behind a much loved and delicious legacy in Daniel’s Broiler. While many people find success in the Seattle restaurant scene, few reach the iconic status of Daniel’s Broiler, nor do they stand the test of time, untarnished and as beloved as ever the way Daniel’s has.

Daniel’s Broiler has been a Seattle staple for over 35 years, in 3 different locations, and it doesn’t appear that that will be changing anytime soon. While the Lake Union location may be moved slightly to make way for the inevitable growth and changes of a bustling city, it’s good to know it won’t be going far.

Lake Union Events: 12 Things to Do in February

As a special neighborhood-specific events reminder, we’re beginning a brand new monthly feature. In the last week of each month, we’ll be posting a detailed list of all the Lake Union events on our radar for the following month. Here’s what’s coming for things to do in Lake Union in February:

  1. Jan. 25 through Feb. 3 – Seattle Boat Show: Between CenturyLink Field and South Lake Union, catch the latest and greatest of recreational watercraft, accessories, seminars, and more. The Seattle Boat Show, Indoors + Afloat is the largest boat show on the West Coast, and features more than 1,000 boats and events. Seminars include “Anchoring Techniques for Northwest Boaters”, “A Clear and Plastic Danger: Plastic in the Marine Environment”, “Circumnavigation of Vancouver Island” and more. Tickets are $12/day for adults, or $24 for a 5-day pass.
  2. Feb. 1 – Caffe Torino Arte&Vino Series: Visit Caffe Torino on Friday, Feb. 1st from 5 to 8 p.m., as the shop continues their monthly art opening. The café will be hosting fine art photographer Lois Pierris. Discounted wine will also be available. The event is free, with beverages available for purchase.
  3. Champagne tastingFeb. 2 – Downtown Spirits Champagne Seminar & Tasting: Downtown Spirits on 7th Ave will be hosting Noah Oldham of Cavatappi Distribuzione for an afternoon of Champagne history, production methods, classifications, and more. The event goes from 4 to 6 p.m. In addition, participants will get to blind-taste eight Champagnes. The cost is $20 per person, please RSVP to info@downtown-spirits.com. 21 and older, only.
  4. Feb. 2 – La Toscanella Regional Tasting Dinner: Visit La Toscanella Bakery & Paninoteca on Westlake Ave N at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 2nd for a four-course meal celebrating the foods and wines of the Dolomites region of Italy. Tickets are $39 per person, not including the cost of wine. Call ahead to reserve your seats: 206-682-1044.
  5. Trimpin alongside a piece from his exhibit, Klavier-Stucke, currently on display at the Winston Wachter Fine Art Gallery. Photo credit K. Farkas for the Seattle Met.

    Trimpin alongside a piece from his exhibit, Klavier-Stucke, currently on display at the Winston Wachter Fine Art Gallery. Photo credit K. Farkas for the Seattle Met.

    Feb. 5 – Trimpin Exhibit Artist Talk: Internationally renowned kinetic sculptor, musician, engineer, sound artist and MacArthur Fellow, Trimpin has work on exhibit at the Winston Wachter Fine Art gallery on Dexter Ave. N. The artist talk is set for Tuesday, Feb. 5th from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (RSVP required at gallery@winstonwachter.com or 206-652-5855). The exhibit, Klavier-Stucke, is open Mondays through Saturdays until Feb. 28th, and is free to the public.

  6. Feb. 8 – Northwest Seaport Chantey Sing: Celebrate the Northwest’s connection to the sea, boats, and sailors with the Sea Chanteys and other musicians on Feb. 8th from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Center for Wooden Boats. Captain Dano Quinn will be leading this February sing-a-long. No experience required, and the event is free and open to the public.
  7. Feb. 9 – Lake Union Neighbor Appreciation Day: Begin your day exploring the businesses that make up our Lake Union neighborhood by stopping at the Y @ Cascade People’s Center for your free ‘passport’. Then walk around the Lake Union neighborhood, getting your passport stamped at each participating business. Prizes awarded for stamps, with free hot dogs and trivia back at the Y @ Cascade People’s Center. The event is Saturday, Feb. 9th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
  8. Feb. 9 – Special Olympics Polar Plunge: Be ‘Freezin’ for a Reason’ with the Polar Plunge Seattle 2013! Raise money for the privilege of jumping into the cold waters of Lake Union with a bunch of other polar plungers on Saturday, Feb. 9th. Register to participate, raise your funds to support the Special Olympics, and take the plunge at 12 p.m. noon in South Lake Union Park!
  9. Feb. 12 – Meet the Maker Wine Tasting Event at RE:PUBLIC: Meet Tom Champine of Raptor Ridge Winery at RE:PUBLIC on Westlake Ave. N. The Raptor Ridge Winery is located in the Willamette Valley, and is known for capturing the fresh fruit flavors and aromas offered by the celebrated Willamette Valley wine-growing region in its wines. The wine tasting event is on Tuesday, Feb. 12th is from 5 to 8 p.m. there will be a small tasting flight cost for 2 oz. pours of the four featured wines, which will also be available by the glass, and paired with small bites for an additional cost.
  10. Winged-HeartFeb. 14 – Valentine’s Day Winged Heart Corks and Canvas Event at the Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle: If you don’t want to stick to the typical dinner and a show routine for V-Day, do something a little unique, but just as romantic. Sip award-winning Washington wines and nibble on Seastar cuisine with your Valentine, while painting a masterpiece of your very own! A local artist will be guiding the event, which is hosted by the Pan Pacific Hotel from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Lobby Bar. Tickets are $45 per person, and advanced registration is required (click here).
  11. Feb. 20 – Brian Carter Cellars at Daniel’s Broiler: Join fellow Lake Union residents and visitors for a multi-course gourmet meal at Daniel’s Broiler on Wednesday, Feb. 20th at 6:30 p.m. The Lake Union restaurant will be featuring paired wines with each course, from Brian Carter Cellars. Costs do apply, please contact vintagelounge@schwartzbros.com or 425-990-6310 to inquire and make reservations.
  12. Feb. 23 – La Toscanella Regional Tasting Dinner: Visit La Toscanella Bakery & Paninoteca on Westlake Ave N at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 23rd for a four-course meal celebrating the foods and wines of the Dolomites region of Italy. Tickets are $39 per person, not including the cost of wine. Call ahead to reserve your seats: 206-682-1044.