Daman’s: A warm watering hole

Walking into Daman’s Bar and Grill, at 14810 NE 24th St. in Redmond, is a bit of a blast from the past.

Judy Ward

Judy Ward

Walking into Daman’s Bar and Grill, at 14810 NE 24th St. in Redmond, is a bit of a blast from the past.

Dimly-lit, well-weathered and unassuming, it’s reminiscent of a college bar or neighborhood tavern where you don’t have to dress to impress.

Throw in four TVs, a couple of pool tables, video and pinball games, open mic nights, karaoke and breakfast served all day and night. Not to mention hearty meal deals like the $12.95 Prime Rib dinner, complete with salad, baked potato and vegetable on Thursday nights, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Daman’s owner Judy Ward compares her humble watering hole to the hang-out on the long-running TV show “Cheers.” Whether you work at Microsoft or are a business traveler temporarily in Redmond, sometimes you want to go “where everybody knows your name,” or at least somewhere that feels like that could happen. Staff at hotels in the Overlake area have been gracious in their referrals, Ward said.

The building originally housed an Alfy’s Pizza and was christened Daman’s as a combo of its first owners’ names, Dave and Norman. Ward bought the bar and grill almost nine years ago and is its fourth owner in 22 years.

“I’ve got one bartender who’s seen all four of us — and he’s still sane,” she joked. “Daman’s did the first open mic on the Eastside. … It took a while to get started, but I’ve had nights where I can’t handle all the sign-ups. People seem to like it even if they didn’t come in for that reason.”

Hosted by Linda Lee, the open mics happen on Mondays and Wednesdays, as well as every third Friday. Drums and a P.A. are provided. Lee brings a keyboard and some other instruments and provides harmonies as needed. Performers can also bring their own gear.

“Daman’s is one of the few venues in the Seattle area to offer musicians a place to play on Mondays and Fridays,” Lee noted. “Judy has always enjoyed live music and supporting upcoming artists, so she asked me, who she saw host an open mic years before at the Dubliner Pub in Fremont, where she used to frequent with her former musician boyfriend. He hosted a jam at Daman’s until they split up and that’s when she asked me to take over.”

For the Wednesday and Friday open mics, artists can sign up at 7:45 p.m. For the “Mellow Mondays” open mic showcases, starting at 8 p.m., singer/songwriters, acoustic and jazz musicians can sign up in advance for 20-minute slots by calling Lee at (206) 783-6962.

Ward was responsible for adding the stage and dance floor at Daman’s. She said “bands generally bring in a crowd of friends. I’m told it’s a fun, down-home atmosphere,” unlike newer — and some might say snobby — nightclubs in downtown Bellevue. Blues, classic rock and grunge are some of the alternating music styles.

“And we’ve broken in so many karaoke virgins on Saturday nights,” Ward snickered.

One can hardly think of karaoke without recalling that scene from “My Best Friend’s Wedding” where Cameron Diaz positively butchers a Dusty Springfield song — only to draw hollers of approval. Daman’s, in fact, can be rented out for wedding receptions and other private parties. It’s not fancy, but it’s got intangible charm.

When asked if the recession has made a dent in her business, Ward said her beer and liquor sales used to be about even.

“Now beer sales are significantly up. Dinner hours are still pretty good,” she commented. “You’ll get a reasonable meal, a good portion and good selection. It’s not just bar food. For under $15, easy, you’ll get a good meal and a beer.”

One caveat: Daman’s is open only to those ages 21 and over. For information, call (425) 881-8801 or visit http://damanspub.com.

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