The 2005-present logo
|Traded as||NASDAQ: DENN|
|Headquarters||Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S.|
Number of locations
|Revenue||US$ $538.53 million (2011)|
|US$50.97 million (2011)|
|US$112.29 million (2011)|
|Total assets||US$350.50 million (2011)|
|Total equity||US$(-9.68) million (2011)|
Denny's (also known as Denny's Diner on some of the locations' signage) is a full-service pancake house/coffee shop/fast casual family restaurant chain. It operates over 1,600 restaurants in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Canada, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Curaçao, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Honduras, Japan (transliterated as デニーズ Denīzu), Mexico, New Zealand, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
Denny's is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock. Unlike many other restaurant chains, Denny's does not close on holidays or nights, except where required by law. Many of their restaurants are located in proximity to freeway exits, bars, and in service areas. Denny's started franchising in 1963, and most Denny's restaurants are now franchisee-owned.
Harold Butler and Richard Jezak opened Danny's Donuts in Lakewood, CA in 1953. In 1955, after Jezak's departure from the then-6-store chain, Butler created and changed the concept a year later in 1956, shifting it from a donut shop to a coffee shop with store #8. Danny's Donuts was renamed Danny's Coffee Shops and changed its operation to 24 hours. In 1959, to avoid confusion with Los Angeles restaurant chain Coffee Dan's, Butler changed the name from Danny's Coffee Shops to Denny's Coffee Shops. Two years later, in 1961, Denny's Coffee Shops was simply renamed Denny's. 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 all their future 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 of the restaurants were built without locks, and some had reportedly lost their keys.
Denny's main office was located in Irvine, California, until 1991. At that time, the office was 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. 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 now trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol DENN.
For much of its history, Denny's offered a free meal to anyone on his/her birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993; though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition. Since 2009 its restaurants offer a free Build-Your-Own Grand 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.
The Denny's Diner prototype
Some Denny's restaurants use the "Diner" concept, using modular buildings that resemble 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 there are about forty Denny's Diners in the United States. In addition, there are several diners that resemble the modular buildings but are actually stick construction.
Domestic and international growth
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. 123 Pilot Flying J conversions were completed, making Denny's the leading full service restaurant brand in travel centers.
As of the end of 2011 there were 1,685 total Denny's restaurants. While the company owns and operates some restaurants, the majority are operated through a franchising model. 1,593 of Denny's 1,685 restaurants are located in the 50 U.S. states (including the District of Columbia), 11 in Puerto Rico, 2 in Guam,1 in Chile, 60 in Canada, 5 in Mexico, 3 in Costa Rica, 2 in Honduras, and 8 in New Zealand. There is also a Denny's attached to the Holiday Beach Hotel in Otrabanda, Willemstad, Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles. Along with the regular Denny's Menu, the Curaçao restaurant offers a selection of local ("kriyoyo") dishes. This is also true of the two locations in Guam which have a separate "Only on Guam" menu featuring Chamorro style dishes. There are also about 578 Denny's restaurants in Japan operated independently under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings.
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. 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 yet.
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 typical Grand Slam Breakfast served with a bottle of Dom Pérignon.
Health inspection records
In October 2004, Dateline NBC aired a segment titled "Dirty Dining". This segment examined the 10 most popular family and casual dining chains in the United States: Bob Evans, Red Lobster, Waffle House, Chili's, Ruby Tuesday, IHOP, Applebee's, TGI Friday's, Outback Steakhouse, and Denny's. 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, or violations that can result in adverse effects to the customers' health. Denny's had the fewest violations of the 10 chains evaluated by Dateline and was the only one to average 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.
Animal welfare efforts
Denny's works with the Humane Society of the United States to address animal welfare issues. In 2008, Denny's began switching to cage-free eggs, and in 2012 the company announced that it will work with its suppliers to move away from the practice of keeping pigs in gestation crates.
Racial discrimination lawsuits
During the 1990s, Denny's was involved in a series of discrimination lawsuits involving several cases of servers denying or providing inferior service to racial minorities, especially black customers.
In 1994, Denny's settled a class action lawsuit filed by thousands of 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 and broadest under federal public-accommodations laws established thirty years previously to end segregation in restaurants and public spaces.
A black Denny's customer was told, in 1995, that he and his friends had to pay up front at the counter upon ordering their meals. He questioned the waitress: "We asked the waitress about it and she said some black guys had been in earlier who made a scene and walked out without paying their bill. So the manager now wanted all blacks to pay up front."
Another 1993 incident occurred when six black United States Secret Service agents visited a Denny’s restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland. They were forced to wait an hour for service while their white companions were seated immediately upon entering.
In 1997, six Asian-American students from Syracuse University visited a local Denny’s restaurant late at night. They waited for more than half an hour as white patrons were regularly served, seated, and offered more helpings. They complained to management and to 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 and attacked them and shouted racial epithets. Several of the students were beaten into unconsciousness.
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, both actors from the popular The Jeffersons television series. In 2001, Denny's was chosen by Fortune magazine as the "Best Company for Minorities." In 2006 and 2007, Denny's topped Black Enterprise's "Best 40 Companies for Diversity."
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