Denny's Corporation
Type Public (NASDAQDENN)
Industry Restaurants
Founded 1953
Headquarters Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S.
Number of locations 1,650+[1]
Revenue decrease US$ $760.27 Million (2008)
Operating income decrease US $60.91 Million (2008)
Net income decrease US $14.66 Million (2008)
Total assets decrease US $347.19 Million (2008)
Total equity increase US (-$174.04) Million (2008)

Denny's (also seen as Denny's Diner on some of the locations' signage) is a full-service coffee shop/family restaurant chain. It operates over 1,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, 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. Many of their restaurants are located in proximity to freeway exits, bars and in service areas. Unlike many other restaurant chains, Denny's does not close on holidays or nights, except where required by law. Denny's started franchising in 1963.



A Denny's Restaurant in Ontario, California.
A Denny's restaurant in Tokyo, Japan.
A Halloween pancake at a Denny's restaurant in Tokyo
The neon sign of a Denny's in San Clemente, California

Denny's was founded under the name Danny's Donuts in 1953 by Richard Jezak and Harold Butler in Lakewood, California. They expanded to 20 restaurants by 1959, when the chain was renamed Denny's to avoid confusion with another chain, "Doughnut Dan's". The business continued to grow and by 1981, there were over 1,000 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states. 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 which had been reported having lost their keys.[2]

Denny's headquarters were located in Irvine, California, until 1991. At that time, the main 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.[3] 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 NASDAQDENN. Today, Denny's operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny's restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings and seven Denny's locations in New Zealand. There is 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 restaurant also has a selection of local ("kriyoyo") dishes.

For much of its history, Denny's was notable for offering a free meal to anyone on his or 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.

In July 2010, Denny's announced plans to expand to the UK market. At the same time, its 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.[4]

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.[5]


Racial discrimination lawsuits

During the early 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.[6]

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 30 years previously to end segregation in restaurants and public spaces.[7]

After the $54.4 million settlement, Denny's created a racial sensitivity training program for all its employees. Denny's has also made efforts at improving its public relations image by featuring black people in many of its commercials, including one featuring Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford (both actors from the popular The Jeffersons television show).[8][9] In 2001, Denny's was chosen by Fortune magazine as the "Best Company for Minorities."[10][11]

These are some of the most notable incidents involving racial discrimination at Denny's, all occurring after the settlement:

  • 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."[12]
  • Another 1996 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.[13]
  • In San Jose, California in 1994, several black teenagers were refused service unless they agreed to pay in advance.[14][15]
  • In 1997, six Asian-American Syracuse University students visited a local Denny’s restaurant late at night. They waited over 30 minutes as white patrons were regularly served, seated, and offered more helpings. They began to complain to management and to their server regarding the situation. They were then 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 the group,[16] shouting racial epithets. Several of the students were beaten into unconsciousness.[17][18]

The Denny's Diner prototype

Denny's Diner in Bangor, Maine, inspired by 1950s culture.

In May 1997, the first Denny's Classic Diner was opened in Fort Myers, Florida. The diner concept was created by the principals of a Denny's Franchisee SWFRI, Inc. The principals were Ron, Marcia, Marc and Todd York. The "diner" is a modular building that resembled 1950s diners. Today there are approximately 38 Denny's diners in the United States. In addition, there are several diners that resemble the modulars but are actually stick construction.

Product Placement

Denny's is currently advertising with the popular website College Humor to create the webseries "Always Open" in which Dave Koechner talks to celebrities in a Denny's restaurant.


  1. ^ Denny's Corporation to Present at the Oppenheimer 11th Annual Consumer Conference
  2. ^ "Diner Chain Has to Buy Locks for First Holiday Closing". Associated Press (The New York Times). December 20, 1988. 
  3. ^ Kohlberg, Kravis Plans Stake in TW. New York Times, June 26, 1992
  4. ^ Denny's to open at Flying J in Pasco
  5. ^ "How safe are your favorite restaurants? - Consumer Alert -". 
  6. ^ "Denny's Restaurants Hit With Discrimination Suit - Google News Archive Search". 
  7. ^ "In a Surprising Act of Redemption, Denny's Becomes a Leader in - Washington Informer - HighBeam Research". 
  8. ^ "'The Jeffersons' come back for another Denny's round.". The Business Journal. September 28, 2001. 
  9. ^ "SHERMAN HEMSLEY AND ISABEL SANFORD.". Nation's Restaurant News Daily NewsFax. September 19, 2001. 
  10. ^ "Virginian-Pilot Archives". 
  11. ^ "denny's Best Company for Minorities - Google News Archive Search". 
  13. ^ "Secret Service accusing Denny's of discrimination - Google News Archive Search".,5737023&dq=denny%27s+discrimination+secret+service&hl=en. 
  14. ^ Labaton, Stephen (May 25, 1994). "Denny's Restaurants to Pay $54 Million in Race Bias Suits - New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  15. ^ " Local Search - Boston Globe Archives".,0EADE0D6EECC1478.html. 
  16. ^ "Syracuse U. Students Fault Police on Denny's," The New York Times, August 27, 1997
  17. ^ "Federal Investigation Finds Fault at Denny's", AsianWeek News, Heather Harlan, August 22, 1997 – August 28, 1997
  18. ^ "Bias Alleged at N.Y. Denny's - The Washington Post - HighBeam Research". 

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