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Originally published Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Now & Then

Dag's served Seattle food fast and fun

With its high jinks, Dag's prospered, especially once its witty "Beefy Boy" reader board began amusing motorists.

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quotes No Dag's in West Seattle, but the one on S. Michigan was a favorite in the 70's when I ... Read more
quotes Best milkshakes in the world, too. I always told my mom to stop there on our trips... Read more
quotes Growing up in South Seattle I have fond memories of the Dag's by Franklin High at Raini... Read more

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IN 1955, ED AND Boe Messet opened a flashy 19-cent hamburger joint they named Dag's, a nickname for their father. The elder Messet was a third-generation stonecutter, and with family help he sold monuments and chiseled epitaphs at the 800 block on Aurora Avenue. There in 1955, after their father's passing, Ed and Boe turned from stone to meat and potatoes. Fast-food success seemed assured on their block-long lot facing the busy speedway. The brothers explained that they wanted to run a business where no one would owe them anything at the end of the day.

Strange it was then in 1959, the Messets began issuing credit cards to their many hungry beef-on-a-bun customers. This oddity was soon resolved once the card was read. Beside a cartoon of a dapper steer was printed, "Dag's Credit Card — Good When Accompanied With Cash."

This "cash card" and many other Dag's promotions were brain-children of a brilliantly screwball cooperation between Boe Messet and one of the region's p.r. legends, Bob Ward. There are many examples. Dag's new incinerator was dedicated with a fancy VIP party. The guests included Gracie Hansen, the 1962 World's Fair's designated girlie-review impresario.

With its high jinks, Dag's prospered, especially once its witty "Beefy Boy" reader board began amusing motorists with messages like "Good Meat but Humble Attitude" and "This is Dag's, Canlis is Ten Blocks North." (The upscale Canlis restaurant survives.) In 1962, Seattle Times humorist John Reddin allowed as how Dag's served 400 steers a year and "something we fatties can understand, four tons of French fried potatoes each week. That's a lot of calories."

The family business survived in the voracious competition for fast-food customers until 1993.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at www.pauldorpat.com.

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