Dan Thiessen grew up on a ranch in Asotin, a town with a population of around 1,000 in southeastern Washington. He went on to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and run fine-dining restaurants around the U.S. and in Switzerland. But now, he’s returning to his ranching roots with Walla Walla Steak Co. and Crossbuck Brewing, businesses he helped found in 2018.
Walla Walla Steak Co., with a connected space for Crossbuck Taproom, recently opened its second location in Woodinville’s historic Schoolhouse No 23., part of Woodinville’s Schoolhouse District. While the steakhouse side of the brick building is a little more fine-dining style, and the taproom is more casual (with televisions showing the hottest sports games), you can order from either business regardless of where you sit. The idea, Thiessen says, is for it to be a comfortable restaurant, no matter your background.
The beef — available as big 34-ounce “hatchet” Prime ribeyes, 16-ounce New York steaks, 14-ounce top sirloin steaks, as a prime rib entree, or as a “cowboy ribeye” rubbed with coffee and spices — exclusively comes from Cattle Company Beef, a collective of 62-family-owned ranches in the Northwest. As a chef from a family of ranchers, Thiessen says he wanted to serve beef good enough to confidently look fellow ranchers in the eye and say, “Look, I’m not going to beat what you have in your freezer, but I’m going to give it a run for its money.”
The beef from the burgers, however, comes from the chef’s ranch in Walla Walla, called Thiessen Ranch, where he finishes the beef with grain — including spent barley from the worts used to make the beer at Crossbuck Brewing — after having grown up eating grass. (“Our steers only have one bad day,” Thiessen says.)
True to the cowboy ethos of the restaurant, the servers (and Thiessen, when he’s around) work in jeans, boots, and dress shirts.
During Thiessen’s many years in the fine dining world, he wore many hats. He was the chef at the Space Needle for a while. He founded Twisted Cork Wine Bar in Bellevue in 2006 (then closed it in 2010 due to the recession). More recently, he was the executive director of the Walla Walla’s Wine Country Culinary Institute for almost seven years after moving back to Eastern Washington to be with his family in 2011.
In 2018, Thiessen opened the first Walla Walla Steak Co. in Walla Walla with business partners Philip Christofides and Paul Mackay (known for opening the second iteration of El Gaucho), and his business became part of the Revelers Club loyalty program. In 2020, Thiessen also became a managing partner of Walla Walla’s Yellowhawk Resort. He’s the majority owner and managing partner of the Woodinville restaurant, with Christofides and Chad Mackay as silent partners.
In the near future, Thiessen hopes to bring Walla Walla Steakhouse and Crossbuck Taproom to more parts of the West (outside of downtown city cores), in places like Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana.
Woodinville’s Walla Walla Steak Co. and Crossbuck Taproom is located at 13205 NE 175th Street. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.