Most new downtown hotels chase trendy concepts for their all-important restaurants. However the hotel newly crowned the largest in the Northwest picked a hometown operator with five decades of history—a place where diners can count on a proper martini and a baked potato that comes with a caddy of sour cream, bacon, and chives. Schwartz Brothers Restaurants opened the fourth and largest Daniel’s Broiler on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Seattle, beneath the hotel’s four ballrooms and 1,260 guest rooms. The gleaming silver column off Ninth and Howell is the most visible symbol of Seattle’s hospitality boom: The city has added 2,783 hotel rooms over the past three years, according to Visit Seattle, with 749 more projected for 2020.
Daniel’s commands enough square footage for a glass-enclosed wine cellar, two bars, and 500 diners. Clad in whiskey-hued wood, with big, bold art, the restaurant looks sleek and modern as the hotel, yet service is comfortingly old-school. A waiter shines a penlight on your knife’s first plunge into a crusty steak, to assure it’s done to your liking. The name “broiler” has the ring of a bygone era, but Daniel’s menu does keep pace with the times. Grass-fed, domestic Wagyu, and Nebraska-raised Piedmontese filets share the roster with USDA prime, and vegetarians and vegans have a range of plant-based options.
CEO Lindsey Schwartz confesses his family has long been “infatuated” with putting a Daniel’s downtown, where thousands of hotel guests share the same roof a block away from the expanding Washington State Convention Center. David Thyer of R.C. Hedreen Co., the project’s developer, says it was “not a competitive scenario” thanks in part to Daniel’s 30-year track record in a Bellevue high-rise project that also includes a Hyatt.
Lindsey and his brothers, Daniel and Derrick, now run the company, founded 50 years ago by their father, Bill, and their uncle, John Schwartz. The original Daniel’s in Leschi turned 40 this year, and has impressively survived longer than other brands Schwartz Brothers conceived over the decades (Henry’s Off Broadway, Chandler’s Crabhouse, and Cucina! Cucina! to name a few).
Though seasoned restaurateurs, the Schwartz brothers had lessons to learn. Hotel restaurants can require staffing for three shifts a day. Occupancy rates can swing widely, but a full hotel can mean a big buyout. In a single week, Daniel’s fed 800 people breakfast and lunch five days in a row.
Breakfast was new for the steak house; one year in, Schwartz says it didn’t perform as well as other aspects of the restaurant. Daniel’s recently ceded morning service to Andare Kitchen, the casual Hyatt-run restaurant off the lobby. Together with the hotel’s other a.m. options—a buffet and grab-and-go food—it’s another sign that people’s eating habits are shifting. The power breakfast may have gone the way of the three-martini lunch, but Daniel’s Broiler endures.