Dan Dyckman knew the competition had deeper pockets, a business portfolio and

Dan Dyckman knew the competition had deeper pockets, a business portfolio and hipster marketing pretensions that appeal to most Seattle-area landlords looking to upgrade a space. He knew buying Darrell’s Tavern in Shoreline (on North Aurora) wasn’t going to be easy.But he also knew the owner, 84-year-old Ben Hammond. For years, Dyckman, 52, regularly joked with the quirky collector of small machines and big Lincoln Continentals that when the time arrived to sell Darrell’s, he wanted to be first in line. And when that day came late last summer, Dyckman told a sick Hammond that he had no intention of bleaching Darrell’s blue collar to white. Dyckman told Hammond’s daughter, Sue, that he liked the tavern’s old-school, Highway 99 feel. Hell, Dyckman even wanted to retain the name, believing that the less-than-hip moniker firmly moored the dive tavern to its 42-year history.He made his pitch. The competition made theirs.Chalk one up for the good guys.”A while back, his daughter said they planned to lease the place,” Dyckman said recently, taking a break from bar work. “I went in and made my pitch. (Hammond) wanted to see the space run a certain way. He didn’t want to see it turn into a place that would mar the history of Darrell’s.”I saw the history as a strength of the entire place.” Since taking over in October, it’s been non-stop work for Dyckman, a longtime bartender at The Dubliner and occasional fill-in at the Blue Moon. He applied for (and got) his liquor license. He’s fixed the sign, polished the place up and watched as a neighborhood returned to the dive-next-door.”It’s being discovered by the neighborhood again,” he said. “Younger people. Neighborhood people. People driving by.”So now, for Dyckman, it’s time to celebrate. First, the bar is holding a Superbowl Smackdown Party on Feb. 7. And then a week later, Sat. Feb 13th, the official Grand Opening with live music and drink specials. And if you go, say a toast for Ben Hammond, who owned the bar for better than 30 years. He died one month ago but not before he and his daughter made sure Darrell’s would continue as it was — maybe better.”Old Highway 99 culture is almost erased on Aurora,” Dyckman said. “But not here.”