9 Things You Didn’t Know About Denny’s

‘America’s Diner’ has a long and storied history

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9 Things You Didn’t Know About Denny’s

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There are few restaurant chains that are more pleasant to think about than Denny’s. Always open, always no-hassle, always ready to come to your aid with a Grand Slam and a pot of coffee. But we bet that there are some things you didn’t know about this fabled chain.

It Was Called Danny’s For Its First Six Years

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The restaurant was called Danny’s Donuts when it first opened in 1953, and when the eighth store opened in 1956, the name was changed to Danny’s Coffee Shops (it also went 24/7 at this time). In order to avoid confusion with a Los Angeles restaurant called Coffee Dan’s, the name was changed to Denny’s Coffee Shops in 1959, and then finally shortened to just Denny’s in 1961. 

Many Locations’ Doors Had No Locks

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Because all locations are 24/7, many were originally constructed with doors that didn’t have any locks. This caused some trouble on Christmas 1988 when nearly every location closed for the first time ever; many doors simply were unable to lock, and for most of the ones with locks the keys were nowhere to be found.

The Grand Slam Was Introduced in Honor of Hank Aaron

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The Grand Slam, which lets you choose four out of nearly 20 breakfast items, was introduced in 1977 in Atlanta in honor of the Atlanta Braves’ Hank Aaron, who retired from the team that year. And for those who are interested, Denny’s has produced a whole animated web series called The Grand Slams featuring anthropomorphic eggs, pancakes, sausage, and bacon. Because YOLO.

The First New York Location Commanded Epic Lines

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New Yorkers are a famously finicky bunch when it comes to dining options, but Denny’s opened their first Manhattan location in August 2014. On opening day, the wait to get in exceeded two hours, and the slightly more upscale location offers alcohol as well as an item not found anywhere else: the Grand Cru Slam, a Grand Slam served with a bottle of Dom Pérignon that costs $300. 

It’s One of the Cleanest Chain Restaurants

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The chain takes cleanliness very seriously. When Dateline NBC investigated Denny’s health inspection records (along with those of nine other popular American chain restaurants) in 2004, Denny’s ended up having the fewest amount of violations of any chain — usually less than one per restaurant.

Its Loyalty Program Can Get You Discounts

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The chain offers a loyalty program; give them your email address and you’ll get coupons and news about promotions

Opening a Franchise Can Cost More Than $2 Million

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Want to own a Denny’s franchise of your own? All you need is a million dollar net worth, $350,000 in liquid capital, a $40,000 franchise fee, and the ability to cover more than $17,000 in training fees. Good luck!

It’s Raised More Than $2.3 Million for No Kid Hungry

Denny’s supports many charities both local and national, including United Way, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, Ella’s Tea Party, and their own scholarship program called Denny’s Hungry for Education. But they’ve by far donated the most money to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry program. In the last four years, they’ve raised $2,378,566 for the charity — the equivalent of 23 million meals for kids. 

The Grand Slamwich Is the Chain's Unhealthiest Menu Item

The gutbomb of a sandwich contains two scrambled eggs, crumbled sausage, bacon, sliced ham, and American cheese on potato bread grilled with a maple spice spread. It’s served with hash browns, and the whole meal clocks in at 1,390 calories, 96 grams of fat, 28 grams of saturated fat, and 510 milligrams of cholesterol.