As Coronado’s oldest bar, Danny’s Palm Bar and Grill has etched out a comfortable niche. It opened in 1907 as The Palm. Over the years it has changed names and owners. Still it has always been a bar, except during Prohibition when it became an ice cream parlor with a speakeasy in the back.
Danny's is currently owned by Jeff Sweet and managed by Sue Morgan. He took over the bar 32 years ago. Morgan has been managing the bar for 13 years.
Coronado Patch: How would you describe Danny’s today?
Jeff Sweet: It’s a neighborhood bar that welcomes locals and tourists alike.
But first and foremost it’s a SEAL bar. As far as they’re concerned it’s their bar. They hold reunions here, come here after graduating from BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs training.) They built a memorial to SEALs who died in combat following 9/11 by placing their pictures on the walls behind the bar. In 2008 the SEALs opened a Danny’s branch in Fallujah. Someone made of copy of the neon palm sign and shipped it over there. There’s a picture of it on the wall at the end of the bar.
Patch: How did it become a SEAL bar?
Sweet: In the early 1980’s a motorcycle gang from Imperial Beach made it their hangout. A group of UDT (underwater demolition team) guys confronted them and persuaded them find a new bar to call home. Once UDT started coming, the SEALs followed.
Patch: Given Danny’s dive bar history, does it ever get rowdy?
Sweet: No, the SEALs pretty much keep the peace. The most that happens is the some of the guys might get up on the bar to dance or decided to take their shirts off. Sometimes about 20 or 30 guys standing around after a few beers, they take their shirts off.
Patch: Who invented the Slamburger?
Sweet: I did, no not really. It’s based on the Kewpie Doll hamburger. It’s a Midwestern chain, where I used to prep burgers as a kid. We use fresh lean meat and make each burger by hand.
Patch: Has the bar always served food?
Sweet: Yes, there used to be a barbecue outback. Now it’s famous for the Slamburger. It’s been voted the number one burger in San Diego, along with our garden burger and turkey burger. People can also order chicken or fish sandwiches, salads and a range of appetizers and sides. In the 1980’s we were known for our Mexican food. We got the cook from Jalisco’s in IB to cook for us. Now we just have a smattering of Mexican.