Harold Butler (1921 – July 9, 1998) was an American entrepreneur. He co-founded the Denny's casual dining restaurant chain with Richard Jezak and helped develop numerous other chains, including Winchell's Donuts, Naugles, and Jojo's.
He began in 1953 with a doughnut shop in Lakewood, California. Originally Danny's Donuts, the name was changed to Denny's to avoid confusion with another restaurant, Coffee Dan's. With his second shop, in Garden Grove, California, he added hamburgers to the menu. In 1963, Butler began franchising Denny's. Under his leadership, the chain expanded to 800 locations. He once explained, "I love to feed people."
Butler got into trouble in 1969 when he tried to buy Caesar's Palace in Paradise, Nevada. The Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of offering some Caesar's shareholders a secret (and illegal) deal. When the deal collapsed, Denny's stock price steeply declined. He sold his Denny's stock, once worth $80 million, for $3 million in 1971.
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