If your beer slides down the bar at Fat Dan’s Deli, it might be a product of owner Dan Jarman’s DIY handiwork. “I like to tinker, but I’m no carpenter,” says the Indy native, who spent his formative years in Chicago developing a taste for the Jewish delis of the Gold Coast. He did a lot of the woodwork at his colorful shrine to the Windy City. Turns out, he’s a man of many talents.
A lifelong home cook and onetime Waffle House dishwasher who abandoned his dreams of being a soccer star after a knee injury, Jarman tried his hand at a range of fields (from commercial real estate to political campaigns) before he threw his hat into the restaurant ring. He knew he wanted to bring in some foods from the East Coast cities where he had visited and lived, and a friend’s misfortune led him to add barbecue to a menu of burgers and dogs. “His restaurant was closing,” says Jarman. “He asked me if I wanted his smoker.”
The success of his SoBro spot has led Jarman to expand to a second, larger location on Michigan Street downtown, slated for a late-autumn opening. And this time, he has some valuable experience to smooth the way. “When we opened on College, we closed up and went for a drink at Moe & Johnny’s up the street. But I locked the keys in the restaurant. I had to break in through the bathroom window. It’s still boarded up.”
Dan Jarman’s Favorite Things
1. The Cubs: “My dad took us to all of the games and even got us into the bars where the players hung out.”
2. Bordeaux and Rhone wines: “I love a Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I haven’t been to France yet, but it’s on my list.”
3. Scuba diving: “My girlfriend and I go as often as we can. Cozumel is definitely our favorite spot.”
4. Gardening: “I grow all of the ghost peppers for the hot sauce on our Ghost Burger.”
This story appeared in the August 2015 issue.