He not only makes killer pastrami, he also adopts celebrities.
David Barney renames the stars on his deli’s wall with his surname.
Marilyn Monroe is Marilyn Barney. Ditto for Albert (Einstein) Barney, Dean (Martin) Barney. Paul (Newman) Barney. Uma Barney. And so on.
It started 21 years ago with a dozen celebrity photos when he opened Barney’s Pastrami Dip in Everett. He changed their last names to Barney using simple nametags.
“I thought it would be comical,” he said.
It was a hit. Since then, other new famous faces have been added to the Barney clan. Ashley Judd. Johnny Depp. Washington’s own Hilary Swank.
“Basically my favorites, for a number of reasons, acting abilities or, you know, their looks,” he said. “They’re all family members.”
It doesn’t stop there.
“That’s how I feel about my customers. They are all Barneys,” he said. “They are my family. They are supporting me and helping this dream to be fulfilled. Without them I’d be nowhere.”
There are a few genuine article Barney Barneys. Google. Fife. Rubble. The purple dinosaur.
Barney, 72, opened the deli after he retired from Gai’s bakery in Seattle. “Because I couldn’t find a good pastrami sandwich,” he said.
The setup is as simple and straightforward as the Barney with a shock of fluffy white hair and mustache.
Plastic lawn furniture is as fancy as it gets at the four-table diner at 5130 Evergreen Way. It sits in a nondescript plaza, between a camera repair shop and a mobile device store. If you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t know it was there.
But once people come, they come back for more. More pastrami. More Barney.
He’s a rock star in the pastrami world.
“I slice and spice,” he said. The meat comes cured from Chicago. The spices are his secret. There’s a bevy of hot sauces. A handsome sandwich is $10.25. Cash only.
“Every other day I have a half of a sandwich,” he said. “It’s the only thing I don’t tire of.”
Want to be a Barney?
“People say they want their photos up there, and I say, ‘Bring it in and I’ll put it up, I promise,’” he said.
Nobody has taken him up on it.
Well, what are you waiting for?
Send What’s Up With That? suggestions to Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.