Dan Brandt is a Renaissance man with a hint of Santa Claus.
He’s a lawyer and lobbyist. He reads Homer and quotes Plato. He’s a gentleman who gracefully opens doors. And he is the go-to guy when rock stars, athletes and even luxury hotels are searching for that perfect toy — a one-of-a kind billiards table.
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With a fluffy white mustache and kind eyes behind his spectacles, the 67-year-old builds, restores and tinkers with pool tables in his Santa-esque workshop hidden deep within a warehouse in North Miami. This man cave — bursting with stacks of slate and wood beams dating back hundreds of years, turn-of-the-century screws, and dismembered pool tables — resembles a whimsical museum.
Born to Build
Billiards are in Brandt’s blood. The Michigan native wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but rather an ivory teething ring made from billiard ball scraps. His father was a Brunswick service manager for almost 20 years before moving to South Florida in the ’60s to start his own pool table business, where his clients included royalty and A-list movie stars.
Brandt took a different route. He became a legal aid attorney and practiced environmental law before moving to South Florida in the ’80s to learn his dad’s business. Today, he still uses a level his father made 50 years ago, and he’s teaching his son all his secrets to conserve and restore his works of art.
‘I do everything: create, find, restore, load the truck, deliver, install and call the next day to see how you are.’
“Everyone can play pool regardless of gender, religion or economic status,” Brandt said. “It transcends all media.”
Used pool tables can range from $750 to $1,000, but a custom-made Brandt original is going to cost anywhere from $15,000 to $175,000, the most expensive table he’s ever sold.
Dan Brandt is a Problem-Solver
In a quick history lesson, Brandt explains that billiards is the overarching name for the game. Pocket billiards is played on pool tables we are accustomed to in America, snooker billiards is played on a larger table, and carom billiards, the original game, is played on a pocketless table.
When The Rolling Stones were in town, Brandt installed a snooker table backstage so they could play before the show. His masterpieces have also been commissioned by Al Gore, Pat Riley, the Miami Heat, Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Delano South Beach and HBO’s Ballers.
During the rare occasion when he’s not working on a table, Brandt is restoring a 1964 Volvo 544, which he’s been working on since disco ruled the airwaves.
“Look at my hands, I do everything: create, find, restore, load the truck, deliver, install and call the next day to see how you are,” he said. “You’re in my hands, and I’m there to take care of you and solve your problems.”