If one wants to find Daniel Patrick, there is a good chance he could be spotted near the corner of 10th and O streets inside Danny’s Downtown Deli on the ground floor of the Terminal Building operating a deli slicer, shaving slices of pepperoni, cappicola or roast beef.
As owner, manager and chief slicer at the small establishment, Patrick has spent many hours preparing a variety of heros, sandwiches and burgers with top-quality ingredients.
The amicable and good-humored Patrick opened the first Danny’s Downtown Deli in 2001, located north of Lincoln's Haymarket District at Eighth and S streets in what would later become the now-defunct Bread & Cup.
After a couple years of operation, Patrick was approached by Terminal Building management about an available space in their building. The second Danny’s Downtown Deli opened in its current location in September 2004, with Patrick eventually closing the S Street store to concentrate on the O Street business.
The deli trade is nothing new to Patrick, who worked for 20 years at various Little King franchises. Starting out as counter help as a high schooler, he worked his way up and became a store manager at several Little King stores in Lincoln, including the former Little King at 13th and O streets.
Eventually he became an area supervisor for the franchise, and later traveled as an advisor/mentor for new Little Kings that were starting up.
But his own, independent deli is his pride and joy. He says that he is at the deli every day it is open. “I want to be in charge of the product that goes out.”
That drive for customer satisfaction is high on the small business owner’s must-do list and is further demonstrated by the friendly attitude and folksy atmosphere at Danny’s.
A wall space features customer signatures praising the deli for “That’s the Best Reuben I’ve Ever Had.” Or the salute to the only customer to succeed out of 35 who have taken the challenge of devouring the deli’s legendary Tornado hero in an hour. (The sandwich was inspired by the 2004 Hallam tornado, which damaged Patrick’s home and is a 15-inch behemoth loaded with nine different meats and five cheeses.)
Patrick takes great pride in using meat products (including ham, roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, turkey, pepperoni, cappicola, prosciutto and salami, that are cut fresh daily. Top sirloin is used for the grilled burgers. “We don’t use inexpensive odds and ends meats,” he said. “Like our slogan: Quality Meats. Quality Cheeses. No Baloney!”
The deli also bakes its own white and wheat hero buns daily.
This past February’s Terminal Building fire forced the deli to shut its doors for a time while ceiling tiles were replaced and clean-up of water damage and soot was undertaken. But Patrick had Danny’s back open within two weeks of the fire.
He lauds the Terminal Building staff and management for their support and assistance, not only in helping with the speedy reopening, but also throughout the years of the deli’s residence.
The majority of Danny’s customer base is downtown, ranging from office workers and contractors to street construction workers and university students, although Danny’s tasty edibles make a special trip to the downtown eatery something to consider.
The menu sports 10 Basic Heros (ham and swiss; ham, hard salami, provolone; ham and turkey; turkey breast; seafood; tuna; turkey and hard salami; pepperoni and provolone; veggie and three cheese) priced at $5.99 half (8”) and $10.99 whole (16”). Hot Heros are $6.99 half/$11.99 whole and include pastrami and provolone, BLT, french dip, BBQ beef, roast beef and cheddar, and tuna melt.
Patrick had some fun naming a couple other hero categories. Some of the Specialty Heros have street names – O Street Combo (ham, salami, cappicola, prosciutto, provolone), N Street Combo (ham, turkey, bacon, swiss and american), L Street (pepperoni, cappicola, cheese), X Street (roast beef, turkey and cheddar), Y Street (cappicola, prosciutto, cheddar, monterey jack) and Z Street (pastrami, corned beef, cheddar, monterey jack). There are also roast beef and cheddar, pastrami and provolone, and corned beef and swiss options.
Under the Magnificent 7 menu listing are the Surf & Turf, Barn Buster (ham, turkey, roast beef, salami, swiss), Vinny (pastrami, corned beef, prosciutto, cappicola, cheese), Beefy Bacon (roast beef, bacon, cheddar), The Curtis (hard salami, pepperoni, swiss), The Lindsay (ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, salami, provolone) and The Danny (ham, roast beef, prosciutto, cheddar).
All of the Specialty Heros and Magnificent 7 are $6.99 half/$11.99 whole.
The Deli Style sandwiches ($4.99 half/$7.99 whole) are served on rye bread and include various meats and cheeses coordinated with numbered street listings – 13th, 27th, 33rd, 48th, 56th, 70th and 84th.
Grilled items include grilled cheese, grilled veggie, tuna melt, grilled chicken, grilled ham and cheese, swiss mushroom burger, patty melt, bacon cheeseburger, cheeseburger, hamburger, grilled philly and the Reuben on rye. Prices range from $5.49 to $8.49 and include drink and chips.
Danny’s “Dinky Deal” is a 5-inch hero on white or wheat bread for $3.49 with choices of ham and swiss, turkey, roast beef, tuna, three cheese, veggie, ham/salami/cheese and seafood.
Not dinky by any means is the previously mentioned huge Tornado, which goes for $34.99. The deli also offers four salads ($5.49-$6.49), soup and side options.
Patrick comments that he believes Danny’s reasonable prices, portion sizes and staff friendliness are key factors in the deli’s success. “We try to put a little bit of love into everything we make,” he said.
Top sandwich shops in Lincoln
The top sandwich shops in Lincoln
I miss Doozy’s and its oven-baked sandwiches, particularly the tuna and cheddar. The longtime downtown sandwich shop closed March 15, 2016, joining Firehouse and Goodcents in leaving downtown Lincoln.
Firehouse, however, reopened in East Park, while Goodcents has three other Lincoln locations. But Doozy’s, sadly, is done in Lincoln. There is one in downtown Omaha, near the Orpheum Theater.
Had Doozy’s not closed, it likely would have competed for the top spot on my list of sandwich favorites for Jeff’s Top Five: Second Edition. It was No. 1 when I did a list seven years ago.
Now, the top spot belongs to Danny’s Downtown Deli at the corner of 10th and O streets. Danny’s, too, has become a downtown mainstay, having been in the area since 2001 and at its current location since 2004.
Four of my five picks are one-of-a-kind stores, while No. 3 Bison Witches only has two other locations in the U.S. (Tucson, Arizona, and Norman, Oklahoma).
Bison Witches was a prohibitive favorite among readers, amassing 24.6 percent of the vote. M&N, and its Chicago-style sandwiches, was second at 11.1 percent.
-- Jeff Korbelik