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Daniel Sandal, a Seattle meat supplier and restaurateur credited with emphasizing food and drink quality "in those days when there was no such thing as

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Daniel Sandal, Founder of Daniel's Broiler, Dies at 71

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Daniel Sandal, a Seattle meat supplier and restaurateur credited with emphasizing food and drink quality "in those days when there was no such thing as a foodie," died Sunday. He was 71.

"He made a strong contribution to the quality of food in this city," says former partner Arnold Shain, with whom he created Benjamin's and The Gasworks Restaurant.

Sandal got his start in the industry as a butcher at Dan's Better Meats in Pike Place Market, a family business founded by Sandal's grandfather in 1910. At 24, Sandal was made head of the company and began focusing on wholesale accounts. His client list included The Space Needle, Trader Vic's, Canlis - then widely regarded as a high-class steakhouse - and Dick's Drive-In, for which he fashioned a fresh-ground patty program. Although Dan's Meats would later ship beef to remote work camps along the Alaska Pipeline, Sandal had a special fondness for the daily delivery system he devised for Dick's: A Dick's cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake was among Sandal's final meals.

As a meat supplier, Sandal had frequent occasion to visit with the city's leading restaurant owners and staffers. When he partnered with Shain, owner of The Butcher in Bellevue, he handled the hiring for their restaurants.

"His specialty was hiring the right people," Shain says. Sandal's hires included bartender Murray Stenson, who refers to his former boss as an "idol, mentor and friend."

Sandal and Shain in 1972 opened Benjamin's atop the tallest building in Bellevue. "It was all of nine stories," Shain recalls.

"It was kind of for the nouveau riche," he recalls, likening the restaurant's culinary slant to the chops-and-Italian cuisine offered at San Francisco's Original Joe's. "It seems kind of staid today, but, in those days, it was pretty cool."

Sandal and Shain then opened The Gasworks Restaurant on the northern edge of Lake Union, drawing eaters to a neighborhood that wasn't considered a dining destination. The restaurant was known for its "hot bar" and a bustling patio that Shain describes as one of Seattle's first outdoor dining experiments.

In 1980, Sandal opened the eponymous Daniel's Broiler in Leschi Marina, selling it to Schwartz Brothers Restaurants the following year.

"He was a wild man," Shain says, refusing to provide any specific examples of his "irreverence" -- or perhaps failing to recall any suitable for print. "He just got around to all the lounges because it was his business. I hate to be so vague, but you can imagine. He was a wild man."

A celebration of Sandal's life is scheduled for Sunday, 4 p.m.-7 p.m., at Daniel's Broiler at Leschi Marina.

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