This is the entrance to our original dale’s Cellar Restaurant. The original restaurant was located in the financial district of downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Our “Cellar’s” was located in the cellar of an apartment building, hence the name “dale’s Cellar Restaurant. The awning boasts the words “air conditioned.” This was not a small amenity in 1949.We first bottled Dale’s Seasoning in Birmingham in 1946. Dale’s was first created as the “house marinade” for dale’s Cellar Restaurant. Since then, people are using dale’s in all kinds of recipes. These recipes range from sauces to salad dressings and everything in-between. Our loyal customers and friends are kind to share with us their favorite recipes and we assembled them in the
dale’s Seasoning Cookbook.
Jake founded dale’s Restaurants in 1946. They expanded to include a total of nine locations. Six of these locations were in Southern cities outside of Birmingham. Jake ran the two Birmingham restaurants until his death in 1966. His wife, Estelle, then took over his role in the business. Jake was a true pioneer in the restaurant industry. He introduced many innovative concepts and techniques that are industry standards today.
Many things separated dale’s Cellar from other restaurants. The first was that patrons could see food being prepared before their eyes. One evening, a friend of Jake’s (as a joke) demanded to have his meal prepared “… right here, right now, at this table!” Consequently, Jake wheeled out a small hibachi grill and cooked the gentleman’s steak at his table. Soon after, word of this cooking style soon circulated. As a result, it evolved into dale’s signature feature – chef prepared meals for all patrons to view. Clyde Adams, head chef at dale’s Cellar in 1949, is pictured above. He is preparing a steak on the restaurant’s main grill behind a glass wall. Additionally, dale’s Cellar is one of the first restaurants to grill all types of food indoors. As we know, this is now a basic feature of nearly all of today’s restaurants.
The cashier’s station at dale’s Cellar in Birmingham is pictured above. This was the first dale’s Cellar restaurant. Dale’s Cellar Restaurant interiors were all very similar. For example, there were no huge bay windows, brass fixtures or ornate salad, soup and dessert bars. Most importantly, the food and service were always the main attraction at dale’s. A dale’s entree favorite was “The Gambler Steak Dinner.” Customers who ordered “The Gambler” never knew what cut of steak they would receive. That decision was left to the chef! However, they were guaranteed that their “gamble” would pay off handsomely when their meal was served. During 1958, the price of “The Gambler” meal – $2.50.
As a result, Dale’s Cellar Restaurants’ reputation grew beyond Birmingham. Soon after, the demand had grown throughout the Southeast for other dale’s Restaurants. Then, in 1963, dale’s opened a location in Panama City Beach, Florida. This was the first location that wasn’t built in the cellar of a building. As a result, the decor in this location changed somewhat to reflect the Florida environment. Several of the classic dale’s seafood recipes were developed at this location.
Murray, along with Estelle, was instrumental in the growth of Dale’s Sauces, Inc. In 1975 they established the basic operating procedures and business philosophies reflected at Dale’s Sauces, Inc. today. Most importantly, Murray was a major catalyst. He was behind the expanded distribution and upgrades in technology that dale’s Sauces experienced between 1975 and 1983. Above all, one of the main tenets of Murray’s philosophy was that each mixture of herbs and spices be combined every morning. This ensures the freshest product possible. This procedure is still being followed today by Estelle’s son, Michael Levine.
Pictured to the left, from left to right: Michael Levine, President, Dale’s Sauces, Inc.; Estelle Levine Silverstein, co-founder, and her nephew Alan Seigel, Vice President.
It is hard to believe that over 70 years ago patrons of dale’s Cellar who requested a bottle of dale’s Seasoning could only be accommodated by filling a soft drink bottle with the sauce. But times have changed, and so have we. However, one of the many things that remains constant throughout our history is the high level of family involvement. As a result, we enjoy our commitment to our employees and loyal customers we have maintained over the years. dale’s Seasoning is a family recipe. A family recipe that we are pleased to share with our valued customers, acquaintances and family friends. While we are very excited about the years to come, we will always remain mindful of our past. Above all, our past will continue to play a major role in our future. Learn more about the tradition of dale’s here.