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    Cheese Soup Appetizers, Salads, Snacks, Soups
    Denny's is the largest full-service family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States, Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico. Denny's is known for its 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year operations, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock. Many of their restaurants are located in proximity to freeway exits and in service areas of small towns and remote areas. Unlike many other restaurant chains, Denny's does not close on holidays or nights, except where required by law.

    History

    Denny's was founded under the name Danny's Donuts in 1953 by Harold Butler in Lakewood, California. Butler expanded to 20 restaurants by 1959, when he renamed the chain to Denny's, a name that could be trademarked, unlike "Danny's," which was in common usage. 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.

    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 that acquired Denny's in 1987. Eventually, Denny's operations dominated the parent company to such an extent that Trans World Corporation, after several name changes, became Denny's Corporation. It now trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol NASDAQ: DENN. Today, Denny's operates about 1,600 restaurants in 49 U.S. states (Wyoming is the only state without a Denny's), Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny's restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings.

    For much of its history, Denny's was notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer only 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.

    Competitors

    Competing restaurants include IHOP, Shoney's, Bob Evans, Waffle House, Cracker Barrel, and Steak n Shake.

    Controversy

    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 minorities, especially African American customers. These are some of the most notable incidents.

    1. In San Jose, California several black teenagers were refused service unless they agreed to pay in advance (Smith, 1996). This was the first recorded incident of such events.

    2. Six Asian-American students of Syracuse University visited a local Denny’s restaurant late at night. They waited over 30 minutes as their white patrons were regularly served, seated and offered more helpings. They began to complain to management and their server regarding the situation. They were forced by two security guards (called upon by Denny’s management) to leave the establishment. Outside the restaurant they were beaten by the guards and a mob of angry white customers from inside the Denny’s restaurant. The six Asian-American students were pushed, shoved, kicked and insulted in front of the very security guards that removed them by management. When three African-American good Samaritans came to assist they were treated with mace by the guards. Two of the students were knocked unconscious during the assault (“Students Accuse,” 1997).

    3. Six African-American 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 (Guillermo, 1997).

    4. An African-American Denny’s customer was told that he and his friends had to pay up front at the counter upon ordering their meals. When 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 black to pay up front” (Ferraro, 1995).

    After settling a class action lawsuit for $54.4 million, Denny's rolled out an industry-leading racial sensitivity training program for all of its employees. Denny's has also improved its public relations image by featuring African Americans in many of its commercials, including a commercial featuring Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford (both actors from the popular The Jeffersons television show).

    In 2001, Denny's was chosen by Fortune magazine as the "Best Company for Minorities," and has consistently remained near the top of the list since. Denny's has made great strides in eliminating discrimination.

    In the controversial book Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, the author included her experience working in a restaurant chain known for its line of breakfast foods. To avoid lawsuits, due to the descriptions of less than desirable work conditions, she mentions the name of the restaurant under the pseudonym "Jerry's". Readers have speculated that Denny's is the restaurant chain she is describing.[citation needed] The Jerry's chain of restaurants was folded into Denny's in 1989.

    The "Denny's Diner" prototype

    In 1998, Denny's reinvented its image and launched Denny's Diner. The "Diner" was a "googie" or Retro-style restaurant, featuring bright red, green, and yellow colors, jukeboxes, lava lamps, retro-style paintings, etc. – The company originally planned to change every Denny's restaurant to Denny's Diner, but financing prohibited it. Eventually, Denny's Diner was merged into the typical Denny's, requiring all locations to have '50s-themed interiors.

    [TITLE]Denny's in popular culture[TITLE]

    . In the 1994 Christmas movie The Santa Clause, the characters played by Tim Allen and Eric Lloyd eat at a Denny's restaurant on Christmas Eve after Allen's character singes their home-cooked turkey dinner. He describes the chain as an "American institution", a line which was immediately followed by an interior shot of the restaurant focusing on Japanese diners.
    . In an episode of the FOX sketch comedy program In Living Color, actor Chris Rock subtly mentions the affordability of Denny's restaurants after requesting that a waiter about to physically throw him out of a classy dining establishment throw him "towards Denny's."
    . A Rush Limbaugh parody commercial features "Reginald Denny's", based on an incident during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. It includes the announcer calling the restaurant "Reginald Lenny's" (before being punched), which was inspired by an elderly customer calling the real chain "Lenny's" in the real commercial.
    . In 1994, Buckshot Lefonque recorded an instrumental song called "Breakfast at Denny's" which featured small excerpts from Jay Leno's routine on the early-1990s discrimination incident. "Denny's say that they don't discriminate, but you gotta wonder when that chef's hat is pointed...."
    . In the 2000 movie Lucky Numbers, John Travolta's character had a permanently reserved table at a Denny's in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
    . In the television series Family Guy, Peter decides to punish his body by eating at Denny's, a reference to its allegedly poor food. In another episode, Brian is shown as overreacting and yelling at a crying baby due to his food being overcooked. In another episode titled Da' Boom, the family establishes a new town after Quahog is destroyed during Y2K. Chris Griffen tells the family to build "two Denny's so we can always say, 'Let's not go there. Let's go to the good one.'"
    . In an episode of South Park, the character Stan becomes friends with group of goth kids. One scene shows them eating at a "Benny's", drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, provoking the waitress to exclaim "You need a life!".
    . In Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez, the stereotypical goth girl Anne Gwish dines at Denny's.
    . Former professional wrestler Amy Dumas a.k.a. 'Lita', is a big fan of Denny's, in particular, their famous omelettes.
    . In an episode of the Simpsons, Moe Syzlak opens "Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag", an attempt at a family restaurant. The effort to be pleasant overwhelms the usually surly bartender. A little girl tells him "the sody (soda) is too cold, it makes my teef hurt". Moe snaps and screams "Well, that's too bad, and I can tell ya where to stick your freakin' "sody" too!" Appalled by Moe's language, Ned Flanders says "I expect that kind of language at Denny's, but not here!"

    Links

    Denny's website
    http://www.dennys.com/
    Denny's logo
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