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Denny's Corporation
FormerlyDanny's Donuts
Danny's Coffee Shops
Denny's Coffee Shops
Company typePublic
Russell 2000 Component
Founded1954; 70 years ago (1954) (as Danny's Donuts) in Lakewood, California, U.S.
FoundersHarold Butler
Richard Jezak
HeadquartersSpartanburg, South Carolina, U.S.
Number of locations
RevenueDecrease US$$541.39 million (2019)[2]
Increase US$164.98 million (2019)[2]
Increase US$117.41 million (2019)[2]
Total assetsIncrease US$460.387 million (2019)[2]
Total equityDecrease −US$138.064 million (2019)[2]
Number of employees
3,110 (2020)[3]
Logo from 2002 to 2019. This logo is still in use at many locations.

Denny's Corporation (also known as Denny's Diner on some of the locations' signage) is an American table service diner-style restaurant chain. It operates over 1,700 restaurants in many countries.[note 1]


Originally opened as a coffee shop under the name Danny's Donuts in Lakewood, California, Denny's was known for always being open and serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner 24 hours a day. Denny's did not close on holidays and nights, except where required by law. Many restaurants are located near freeway exits, bars, and in-service areas.

Denny's started franchising in 1963, and most Denny's restaurants are now franchisee-owned.[4] Franchise agreements require 24/7 service in most locations. Because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry in the United States, many Denny's had to close for the first time and may now have limited hours of operation.[5]


Original "Denny's" located in Lakewood California (1953)

Denny's was founded by Harold Butler and Richard Jezak in 1953, who opened Danny's Donuts in Lakewood, California, in 1954.[4] In 1956, a year after Jezak departed from the six-store chain, Butler changed the concept, shifting it from a donut shop to a coffee shop with store No. 8. Danny's Donuts was renamed Danny's Coffee Shops and changed its operation to 24 hours. During the 1950s, Los Angeles architects Armet & Davis created a new prototype building with a boomerang-shaped roof that became a model for stores built nationwide. They also designed a second prototype in 1965 with a zigzag shingled roof. These designs enabled Googie architecture to spread across America. Many Denny's locations were built near freeway offramps, leading to increasingly larger signage.[6] In 1959, Butler changed the name from Danny's Coffee Shops to avoid confusion with the Los Angeles restaurant chain Coffee Dan's to Denny's Coffee Shops. In 1961, Denny's Coffee Shops was renamed Denny's.[4] The business continued to expand, and by 1981, there were over 1,000 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states. The company absorbed many of the old Sambo's restaurants and used their mid-century design in some of their restaurants. In 1977, Denny's introduced the still-popular Grand Slam breakfast. In 1994, Denny's became the largest corporate sponsor of Save the Children, a national charity. All but six Denny's closed for the first time ever on Christmas 1988; many restaurants were built without locks, and some had reportedly lost their keys.[7]

Denny's main offices were in La Mirada, California, until 1989. At that time, the office was first moved to Irvine, California, and subsequently moved to the Spartanburg, South Carolina headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation (TW Corporation) that acquired Denny's in 1987. In 1992, private equity firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts acquired a 47% interest in TW Corporation, later known as The Flagstar Companies, and encouraged the company to sell non-core businesses.[8] On July 12, 1997, Flagstar, Denny's parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[9] Eventually, Denny's operations dominated the parent company to such an extent that The Flagstar Companies changed its name again to Denny's Corporation. It trades on the NASDAQ under the DENN symbol.

From 1990 through 1996, Denny's offered a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included limited meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotion began in the 1990s, though occasionally, individual franchises had offered it before that time. Because too many people went to Denny's more than once on their birthdays, the management had to restrict the rules to only one meal per person, per birthday, only on the actual birthday, with proof of legal birth date required, such as a driver's license, other photo ID, or a birth certificate. Since 2009, the restaurant chain has offered a free Birthday Build-Your-Own Slam on the customer's birthday.

In 1994, Denny's began renovating its stores with a lighter color scheme; select locations also began serving Baskin-Robbins ice cream for a short time. Houston, Texas, was the test market for the chain-wide renovation.[10]

Denny's opened its first restaurant in Australia in December 1982, in the suburb of Forest Hill, Melbourne.[11] The Australian franchise was owned by Ansett Australia and expanded into other states throughout the 1980s. However, changing tastes of the Australian consumer led to the sale of the chain in 1989[12] and its closure shortly after that.

Denny's Diner prototype[edit]

Denny's Diner in Bangor, Maine, inspired by 1950s culture (March 2008)
Exterior of a Denny's at night (2019)
This newer Denny's off Interstate 35 north of Laredo, Texas, handles a considerable trucker clientele. (July 2014)
A Halloween pancake at a Denny's in Tokyo (October 2006)

Some Denny's restaurants employ the "diner" concept, using modular buildings resembling classic 1950s diners. In May 1997, the first Denny's Classic Diner was opened in Fort Myers, Florida. The diner concept was created by Ron, Marcia, Marc, and Todd York, the principals of Denny's Franchisee SWFRI, Inc. Today,[when?] there are about 40 Denny's Diners in the United States. Additionally, several diners resemble modular buildings but are actually stick construction.[citation needed]

Domestic and international growth[edit]

In July 2010, Denny's presence in the United States saw a major expansion when Pilot Flying J started opening Denny's locations inside their Flying J-branded truck stop locations.[13] 123 Pilot Flying J conversions were eventually completed.[14]

In June 2012, Denny's opened a location in the Las Américas International Airport, its first location in an airport and its first in the Dominican Republic.[15][16] In July 2012, Denny's announced it had signed an agreement with a franchisee to open 50 restaurants in southern China over 15 years, beginning in 2013. This makes it Denny's largest international development deal at that time.[17][18] However the deal was cancelled before any restaurants opened.[19]

On August 29, 2014, Denny's opened its first location in New York City, with some patrons waiting as long as two hours before its official opening to eat there. Located in Lower Manhattan, the location is designed to be more upscale than the typical Denny's, serves alcohol, and offers a location-exclusive $300 Grand Cru Slam, which is the standard Grand Slam Breakfast served with a bottle of Dom Pérignon.[20][21] It closed in January 2018.[22]

In November 2017, it was announced that Denny's was to open its first UK restaurant in Swansea in December 2017 as part of Parc Tawe's 15 million redevelopment scheme, occupying a 4,000 sq ft unit.[23] The restaurant opened on Christmas Day 2017 for the homeless people in the city of Swansea, although the official opening to the general public was on December 27.

At the end of 2023 there were 1,602 Denny's restaurants. With the company owning and operating 66 with the remaining 1,582 under a franchising model; 1,445 of Denny's 1,602 restaurants are located in the United States (including the District of Columbia), 84 in Canada, 15 in Mexico, 15 in Puerto Rico, 10 in Philippines, 7 in New Zealand, 6 in Honduras, 5 in the UAE, 2 in Guatemala, 3 in Costa Rica, 2 in Guam, 3 in El Salvador, 1 in Curaçao and 1 in the United Kingdom.[24] Denny's previously had a location in Chile.[25]

There are also about 578 Denny's restaurants in Japan operated independently under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings[26] since 1984.[27] The first Denny's restaurant in Japan opened on the first floor of the Ito-Yokado in Kamiōoka (ja:上大岡), Kōnan-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture on April 27, 1974, however, it closed on March 20, 2017, on account of the demolition of the building of Ito-Yokado.[28][29][30][31]

Health inspection records[edit]

In October 2004, Dateline NBC aired a segment titled "Dirty Dining", in which the ten most popular family and casual dining chains in the United States were examined: Applebee's, Bob Evans, Chili's, Denny's, IHOP, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Friday's, and Waffle House. As part of the segment, the producers examined the health inspection records for 100 restaurants over 15 months and totaled all of the critical violations that could result in adverse effects on the customers' health. Denny's had the fewest violations, averaging fewer than one violation per restaurant. Denny's attributes this relative success to its adherence to the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points.[32]

Animal welfare efforts[edit]

Denny's had worked with the Humane Society of the United States to address animal welfare issues. In 2008, Denny's began switching to cage-free eggs.

In 2012, the company announced it would work with its suppliers to avoid keeping pigs in gestation crates.[33] However, the company removed its initial commitment and is now facing a public awareness campaign ( In 2024, the Humane Society of the United States filed a shareholder proposal requesting that the company reinstate its deadline to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.[34]



Denny's has been involved in discrimination lawsuits involving food servers denying or providing inferior service to racial minorities, especially black customers.[35]

A 1993 incident occurred when six black United States Secret Service agents visited Denny's restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland. They were forced to wait an hour for service while their white companions were seated immediately.[36][37]

In San Jose, California, in 1991, several black teenagers were refused service unless they agreed to pay in advance.[38][39]

In 1994, Denny's settled a class action lawsuit filed by black customers who had been refused service, forced to wait longer, or pay more than white customers. The $54.4 million settlement was the largest under federal public accommodations laws established thirty years earlier.[40]

In 1995, a black Denny's customer in Sacramento, California, was told that he and his friends had to pay upfront at the counter upon ordering their meals. He questioned the waitress: "We asked the waitress about it and she said that some black guys who had been in the restaurant earlier had made a scene and walked out without paying their bill. So the manager now wanted all blacks to pay up front."[41]

In 1997, six Asian-American students from Syracuse University visited a local Denny's restaurant late at night. They waited more than half an hour as white patrons were regularly served, seated, and offered more helpings. They complained to management and their server but were forced to leave the establishment by two security guards called by Denny's management. Then, according to the students, a group of white men came out of Denny's, attacked them[42] and shouted racial epithets. Several of the students were beaten unconscious.[43][44]

After the $54.4 million settlement, Denny's created a racial sensitivity training program for all employees. Denny's has also made efforts at improving its public relations image by featuring African-Americans in their commercials, including one featuring Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford, actors from the popular The Jeffersons television series.[45][46] In 2001, Denny's was chosen by Fortune magazine as the "Best Company for Minorities."[47] In 2006 and 2007, Denny's topped Black Enterprise's list of "Best 40 Companies for Diversity."[48]

In 2014, a Denny's location in Deming, New Mexico, was subjected to a discrimination claim by an LGBT group, alleging that wait staff used homophobic slurs and refused to serve a group of gay, lesbian, and transgender customers who were attending a gay pride celebration. One year later, Denny's agreed to donate $13,000 to Deming Pride, pay $3,250 to a female customer who was subjected to abusive behavior by wait staff, and retrain its employees about discrimination policies.[49]

In 2017, the staff at a Denny's in Vancouver, British Columbia was accused of making an Indigenous woman pay for her meal before it was served.[50] After the customer left, restaurant staff called police to report the incident, alleging that the patron had a sharp metal object in her pocket.[51]

Animal cruelty allegations[edit]

In 2023, the global animal rights group Animal Equality began a public information campaign regarding Denny's failure to eliminate gestation crates for pigs from its supply chain.[52]

Sudden closures[edit]

In June 2017, eight Denny's locations in Colorado, including Colorado Springs and Pueblo, abruptly shut down due to a franchise owner failing to pay nearly $200,000 in back taxes as well as over $30,000 in sales tax from the previous year. In addition, several employees claimed there were issues with accounts not being paid, bounced checks, and paychecks not arriving on time. As a result of the seizure of the eight Denny's locations by the IRS, numerous employees were left without employment and claimed that no advance warning was given regarding the sudden closures. The franchise owner responsible for the closures immediately fled the state of Colorado.[53][54]

On January 31, 2024, a Denny's location in Oakland, California permanently closed after 54 years of operation, citing the "safety and well-being" of customers and employees.[55][56]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Denny's Corporation Annual Report
  2. ^ a b c d e "Denny's Corporation Form 10-K". Securities and Exchange Commission. February 24, 2020. Archived from the original on September 10, 2021. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  3. ^ "Denny's Number of Employees 2006-2021 | DENN". Archived from the original on September 10, 2021. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "Home Page – Denny's". Archived from the original on August 21, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  5. ^ Haddon, Heather (March 18, 2022). "Late-Night Diners Mourn the Loss of Late-Night Diners". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on March 19, 2022. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  6. ^ Hess 2004, p. 126
  7. ^ "Diner Chain Has to Buy Locks for First Holiday Closing". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 20, 1988. Archived from the original on July 29, 2018. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  8. ^ "Kohlberg, Kravis Plans Stake in TW". The New York Times. June 26, 1992. Archived from the original on July 29, 2018. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  9. ^ "Denny's parent makes bankruptcy filing". The New York Times. July 12, 1997. Archived from the original on March 11, 2023. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  10. ^ "Restaurant testing new look, menu". The Galveston Daily News. Associated Press. March 13, 1994. p. 23. Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2014 – via
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 2, 2019. Retrieved January 1, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Restaurant chain sale". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). May 26, 1989. p. 17. Archived from the original on July 9, 2023. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Fox, Geoff (November 4, 2009). "Denny's to open at Flying J in Pasco". Tampa Tribune. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012.
  14. ^ Miller, John C. "To Our Valued Shareholders". Denny's Corporation 2011 Annual Report. Denny's Corporation. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
  15. ^ "Denny's Enters Dominican Republic". Yahoo! Finance. Zacks Equity Research. June 27, 2012. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  16. ^ "Denny's Comes to the Dominican Republic". Fox News Channel. June 28, 2012. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  17. ^ Jones, Kristin (July 9, 2012). "Denny's Plans China Expansion in 50-Restaurant Deal". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 10, 2012.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Denny's to open 50 restaurants in China". Daily News. New York. July 11, 2012. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  19. ^ "Denny's cancels franchise deal in China". Nation's Restaurant News. March 11, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  20. ^ Tepper, Rachel (August 29, 2014). "We Went to America's First 'Fancy Denny's'". Yahoo! News. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014.
  21. ^ Preston, Marguerite (August 27, 2014). "Denny's Makes Its Very Fancy New York Debut on Friday". Eater NY. Archived from the original on July 9, 2023. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  22. ^ Upadhyaya, Kayla Kumari (January 11, 2018). "The Fancy Denny's That Served $300 Grand Slams Has Closed". Eater NY. Archived from the original on March 23, 2020. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  23. ^ "American Diner Denny's Chooses Swansea to Open Its First UK Restaurant". November 22, 2017. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  24. ^ "Denny's Corporation Annual Report" (PDF).
  25. ^ "Denny's Opens First South America Restaurant in Chile". Upstate Business Journal. October 14, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  26. ^ "Denny's Chain in Japan". The Wall Street Journal. May 10, 1973. p. 4. Archived from the original on October 4, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017. Alternate Link Archived September 11, 2016, at the Wayback Machine via ProQuest.
  27. ^ "Denny's Says Rights To Its Name in Japan Sold for $25.5 Million". The Wall Street Journal. November 14, 1984. p. 1. Archived from the original on October 4, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017. Alternate Link Archived September 11, 2016, at the Wayback Machine via ProQuest.
  28. ^ "デニーズ上大岡店". デニーズ. Archived from the original on March 12, 2017. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  29. ^ "上大岡にあるデニーズ1号店、「らしさが皆無」なのは本当?". はまれぽ.com. June 21, 2014. Archived from the original on February 27, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  30. ^ デニーズ 1号店20日で閉店 4世代で通う客「寂しい」 Archived February 27, 2019, at the Wayback Machine 毎日新聞 18 March 2017
  31. ^ "さよならデニーズ1号店 – 米国の薫り43年 惜しむ常連 – 横浜 20日閉店". 朝日新聞. March 18, 2017.
  32. ^ Thompson, Lea (October 3, 2004). "How safe are your favorite restaurants?". NBC News. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  33. ^ West, Anna (May 15, 2012). "Denny's Moves to End Gestation Crate Pig Confinement in Its Supply Chain" (Press release). The Humane Society of the United States. Archived from the original on June 16, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  34. ^ "Shareholder proposal asks the Company to publish measurable, time-bound targets for eliminating (or at least significantly reducing) gestation crates in its pork supply and regularly report progress meeting them" (PDF). Notice of Annual Meeting and Proxy Statement. April 4, 2024. Retrieved April 12, 2024.
  35. ^ "Denny's Restaurants Hit With Discrimination Suit". Jet. April 12, 1993. pp. 4–5. Archived from the original on July 9, 2023. Retrieved January 6, 2012 – via Google News Archive.
  36. ^ "Secret Service accusing Denny's of discrimination". The Robesonian. May 24, 1993. p. A3. Archived from the original on February 14, 2023. Retrieved January 6, 2012 – via Google News Archive.
  37. ^ Fletcher, Michael A. (May 25, 1994). "6 black Secret Service agents to share in settlement of Denny's bias suit". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  38. ^ Labaton, Stephen (May 25, 1994). "Denny's Restaurants to Pay $54 Million in Race Bias Suits". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  39. ^ " Local Search – Boston Globe Archives". Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  40. ^ "In a Surprising Act of Redemption, Denny's Becomes a Leader in Diversity". Washington Informer. January 20, 1999. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  41. ^ Ferraro, Cathleen (December 12, 1995). "Denny's Settles Two Race Suits Sacramentans Share In $46 Million Deal". Sacramento Bee. p. F1. Archived from the original on January 7, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2015 – via NewsBank.
  42. ^ "Syracuse U. Students Fault Police on Denny's". The New York Times. August 22, 1997. Archived from the original on August 28, 2016. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  43. ^ Harlan, Heather (August 22, 1997). "Federal Investigation Finds Fault at Denny's". AsianWeek.
  44. ^ "Bias Alleged at N.Y. Denny's". The Washington Post. August 22, 1997. Archived from the original on September 16, 2016. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  45. ^ "'The Jeffersons' come back for another Denny's round". Tampa Bay Business Journal. September 28, 2001. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  46. ^ "Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford". Nation's Restaurant News. September 19, 2001. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007 – via Access My Library.
  47. ^ Dinsmore, Christopher (October 11, 1998). "High Marks for Diversity Fortune's List of Companies With Best Marks for Hiring And Promoting Minorities Includes Area Shipbuilder". Virginian-Pilot. p. D1. Archived from the original on January 7, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2015 – via NewsBank.
  48. ^ "Awards & Recognition". Denny's Diversity Speaks. Denny's. Archived from the original on September 18, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  49. ^ Ramirez, Chris & Reed, Elizabeth (June 16, 2015). "LGBT group resolves discrimination complaint with NM Denny's". KOB Eyewitness News 4 Albuquerque. Archived from the original on June 20, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  50. ^ "'Treated like a criminal': Yukon Indigenous woman accuses Vancouver Denny's of racism". CBC News. November 21, 2017. Archived from the original on November 21, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  51. ^ Strapagiel, Lauren (November 21, 2017). "This Indigenous Couple Says A Denny's Employee Asked Them To Pay For Their Meals Upfront". BuzzFeed Canada. Archived from the original on November 22, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  52. ^ "Animal rights group holds protest at Denny's headquarters in Spartanburg". Fox Carolina. November 12, 2023. Retrieved April 12, 2024.
  53. ^ Morrison, Holly (June 6, 2017). "Employees: 8 Denny's locations shut down after lack of paid taxes". KRDO News 13 Colorado Springs. Archived from the original on June 6, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  54. ^ Laden, Rich; Bodine, Seth (June 6, 2017). "State seizes Denny's restaurants in Colorado Springs for back taxes". Colorado Springs Gazette. Archived from the original on June 10, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  55. ^ Medina, Madilynne. "Denny's on Hegenberger corridor in Oakland shuts down for good due to crime". Sfgate.
  56. ^ "Denny's Closes on Crime-Plagued Street Near Oakland Airport". February 2024.

External links[edit]