Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny’s (NASDAQ:DENN) wants to be known as “America’s Diner.” And it has a darn good argument.
What started as a Californian joint named Danny’s Donuts in 1953 evolved into a big-time business spanning across — you guessed it — America.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia, to be exact. (And Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Guam, Qatar, UAE and the Antilles Islands. But who’s counting?)
The company that has been shilling Grand Slam breakfasts for 35 years has been a bit of a nomad. It was acquired by holding company Trans World in 1987, and it moved its main office from Irvine, Calif., to Trans World’s Spartanburg headquarters in 1991. After a series of corporate shifts, selloffs and name changes, Denny’s emerged as the primary business and now makes up the corporate name.
Today, Denny’s employs about 10,000 people across its roughly 1,700 locations, most of which are franchised while only a handful owned and operated by the company itself. While DENN’s revenues have shrunk in recent years, it still does about 550 million in sales annually.
Denny’s suffered through identity issues in the 90s, as the company suffered a number of racial discrimination lawsuits concerning the treatment of minorities at its restaurants — one of which resulted in a $54 million settlement and a massive PR overhaul.
The company has since worked to restore its image as a family restaurant, and in the past decade or so, Denny’s has taken to America’s nostalgia by opening a handful of locations designed just like classic diners.
But retro look or not, Denny’s is a standard of America’s roadways, providing weary travelers with every meal of the day, 24 hours a day. So in practice, Denny’s certainly is “America’s Diner.”
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