Dan Delaney BFA '08 (Multimedia)
Dan Delaney BFA ’08 (Multimedia), now Design, Art & Technology, is quickly becoming the most acclaimed purveyor of authentic Texas barbeque this side of the Rio Grande. And the owner of new restaurants in Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, took a winding road—literally—to where he is today.
After graduating from UArts, he started off on a two-year, cross-country journey creating video reviews of food trucks for his web-based series “VendrTV,” devising ways to generate revenue and offset his costs. That venture took him to Texas, where he fell in love with its unique smoked brisket. He eventually moved to New York City and began a new show. Along the way, he had become connected with a web publishing firm that presented large-scale street-food events at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. They reached out to Delaney to organize those events, and when he drove back to New York, he was hauling an eight-foot long, professional wood-fired smoker—and his career as a brisket impresario had begun.
Over the course of the summer of 2013, Delaney staged pop-up dining experiences around Brooklyn that he called “Brisketlab,” with customers pre-ordering via social media. That turned out to be a brilliant strategy: he sold 3,200 pounds of brisket in 48 hours at $25 per pound. “We went from zero dollars to almost $100,000. We spent the summer practicing, cooking 6,000 to 7,000 pounds of meat over 31 events in just 60 days. We went from a very disorganized event series to a product we were starting to become proud of.”
He then pre-sold more than 4,000 pounds of brisket in 24 hours for the opening of his permanent site. Additional help came from some prominent investors, which allowed him to sign a lease and open BrisketTown in November 2012. The restaurant has received positive reviews from The New York Times, Bon Appetit magazine, The Village Voice and others.
The Washington Post described Delaney this way: “If he lived in California in the 1970s, Daniel Delaney might lead a cult. The guy is a fanatic—one of those types whose rock-hard devotion to the cause makes others want to follow him in hopes that he’ll show them the light. The light, in this case, is brisket, smoked low and slow over Texas post oak.”
And Delaney’s epicurean empire is expanding—he just opened a Manhattan location on the High Line in Chelsea. The outpost, called SmokeLine, features Central Texas-style barbecue sandwiches, an extensive pie program and a made-to-order soda bar.
He cites his Multimedia program experience as a great launching pad for his entrepreneurial journey. “It was really a renaissance degree,” he says. “We took business classes, math classes; there was a major emphasis on how to present what you’re doing and on the business, financial and monetary value of what you’re doing. I learned that it’s not really about your mode of implementation—a paintbrush, a keyboard or a spatula—it’s about your understanding.
“My life’s journey was unbelievably sculpted by my four years at UArts. There were so many small things the University allowed me to do. I was in the right place at the right time, and I’m eternally grateful.”