Denny's in decline?

Brian Lutz
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Denny's in decline?

Post by Brian Lutz » July 30th, 2018, 7:10 am

This weekend, I noticed that a Denny's in Bellevue that I used to frequent when I lived there closed down recently. This isn't the first to close, as over the past several years I've seen a number of other Denny's locations in the area close as well. 2 of them got torn down and turned into Chick-Fil-A restaurants, but several others are just sitting vacant. I suspect the ones that closed down knew for some time they were closing, as they seemed decidedly understaffed on the last few visits.
Comments from a waitress at the Everett location the last time we were there seem to suggest that they weren't exactly thriving either.

I can't see Denny's going away completely anytime soon, but it doesn't seem like they're exactly thriving either. Has anyone else seen Denny's locations closing in their area?

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Re: Denny's in decline?

Post by Super S » July 30th, 2018, 8:46 am

I haven't seen any closing recently. I have seen them doing some pretty thorough remodels recently though, two I have been to recently are Kelso, WA and Clackamas, Oregon. They also moved from a very old location to a former Newport Bay restaurant at Jantzen Beach a few years ago. The Portland area in particular seems to be pushing to update. I know A.C. Green operated a number of Denny's in the Portland area for a while and really didn't do much in they way of remodels or updates and some became very tired looking and were not that well run. Several closed, including all locations in Vancouver, WA. Whoever is operating them now has improved service considerably. The food is slowly improving in quality. The only real strike against them right now is that their prices are climbing and they don't have the value like they once did.

With that said, Denny's has been hit or miss with franchise operators for a long time. They aren't a consistent chain. Some are very well run where others have received minimal/no remodeling, and service/food varies as well.

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Re: Denny's in decline?

Post by Brian Lutz » July 30th, 2018, 10:45 am

In the case of the Denny's in Bellevue, I suspect rent increases probably did them in as the real estate prices in the area keep climbing higher and higher. That particular restaurant had been remodeled about ten years ago, but as with most Denny's around here the service could be very hit-or-miss. The one closest to where we live seems to vary quite a bit depending on who is working when you're there.

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Re: Denny's in decline?

Post by storewanderer » July 30th, 2018, 8:46 pm

Denny's has had a lot of locations come and go over the years. But there seem to be a lot of real old buildings out there that have been Denny's forever and none of those seem to be going anywhere.

In my area a couple newer Denny's opened in developing parts of town along state highways in the mid 00's and both closed real quick. But the 2 old 70's era locations along the Interstate are still going strong. So is an early 90's era location by the airport. There are certain kinds of locations that are high traffic and strike me as Denny's kind of places and they seem to involve interstate highways, lodgings without food service, and airports. Does Denny's require that all locations be open 24 hours? If so that may explain why they need the kind of locations they seem to often have, as these areas tend to have activity at many hours of the day/night for a variety of reasons. Developing parts of town that are mostly residential with some retail are pretty quiet come 9 or 10 PM and a zero revenue graveyard shift that you are forced to operate per your franchisor can be enough to tank a business that is already only marginally performing at other times of day.

Denny's also saw some good growth when Flying J was purchased by Pilot and Pilot allowed Denny's franchises to take over many of the old Flying J operated restaurants.

I haven't eaten at a Denny's in probably 15 years so I am not too familiar with the current operation. I did consider eating at one in downtown San Francisco but the grand slam was like $15 pre tax pre tip... and this was a few years ago. McDonald's did the job instead for not much more than they charge back here in NV.

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Re: Denny's in decline?

Post by a42887 » July 31st, 2018, 1:44 am

The franchisee in the Southern Colorado market didn't bother to pay his taxes, so the state seized all of them, and they never re-opened. 8 locations if I remember correctly.

http://www.kktv.com/content/news/Dennys ... 56441.html

https://gazette.com/business/state-seiz ... bc41b.html

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Re: Denny's in decline?

Post by pseudo3d » July 31st, 2018, 11:00 pm

storewanderer wrote:
July 30th, 2018, 8:46 pm
Denny's has had a lot of locations come and go over the years. But there seem to be a lot of real old buildings out there that have been Denny's forever and none of those seem to be going anywhere.

In my area a couple newer Denny's opened in developing parts of town along state highways in the mid 00's and both closed real quick. But the 2 old 70's era locations along the Interstate are still going strong. So is an early 90's era location by the airport. There are certain kinds of locations that are high traffic and strike me as Denny's kind of places and they seem to involve interstate highways, lodgings without food service, and airports. Does Denny's require that all locations be open 24 hours? If so that may explain why they need the kind of locations they seem to often have, as these areas tend to have activity at many hours of the day/night for a variety of reasons. Developing parts of town that are mostly residential with some retail are pretty quiet come 9 or 10 PM and a zero revenue graveyard shift that you are forced to operate per your franchisor can be enough to tank a business that is already only marginally performing at other times of day.

Denny's also saw some good growth when Flying J was purchased by Pilot and Pilot allowed Denny's franchises to take over many of the old Flying J operated restaurants.

I haven't eaten at a Denny's in probably 15 years so I am not too familiar with the current operation. I did consider eating at one in downtown San Francisco but the grand slam was like $15 pre tax pre tip... and this was a few years ago. McDonald's did the job instead for not much more than they charge back here in NV.
Come to think of it, I haven't been able to think of any new Denny's that have opened that I know of, that were not part of a truck stop. On the other hand, I haven't seen any closing (except a truck stop location, where a Denny's pulled out their franchise before the truck stop folded entirely). In terms of the Denny's open in the Houston, all the non-truck stops are next to the freeways AND adjacent to motels or hotels, except a few that are located in restaurant/strip mall clusters instead (these are usually newer).

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Re: Denny's in decline?

Post by Super S » August 1st, 2018, 8:34 am

pseudo3d wrote:
July 31st, 2018, 11:00 pm
storewanderer wrote:
July 30th, 2018, 8:46 pm
Denny's has had a lot of locations come and go over the years. But there seem to be a lot of real old buildings out there that have been Denny's forever and none of those seem to be going anywhere.

In my area a couple newer Denny's opened in developing parts of town along state highways in the mid 00's and both closed real quick. But the 2 old 70's era locations along the Interstate are still going strong. So is an early 90's era location by the airport. There are certain kinds of locations that are high traffic and strike me as Denny's kind of places and they seem to involve interstate highways, lodgings without food service, and airports. Does Denny's require that all locations be open 24 hours? If so that may explain why they need the kind of locations they seem to often have, as these areas tend to have activity at many hours of the day/night for a variety of reasons. Developing parts of town that are mostly residential with some retail are pretty quiet come 9 or 10 PM and a zero revenue graveyard shift that you are forced to operate per your franchisor can be enough to tank a business that is already only marginally performing at other times of day.

Denny's also saw some good growth when Flying J was purchased by Pilot and Pilot allowed Denny's franchises to take over many of the old Flying J operated restaurants.

I haven't eaten at a Denny's in probably 15 years so I am not too familiar with the current operation. I did consider eating at one in downtown San Francisco but the grand slam was like $15 pre tax pre tip... and this was a few years ago. McDonald's did the job instead for not much more than they charge back here in NV.
Come to think of it, I haven't been able to think of any new Denny's that have opened that I know of, that were not part of a truck stop. On the other hand, I haven't seen any closing (except a truck stop location, where a Denny's pulled out their franchise before the truck stop folded entirely). In terms of the Denny's open in the Houston, all the non-truck stops are next to the freeways AND adjacent to motels or hotels, except a few that are located in restaurant/strip mall clusters instead (these are usually newer).
The vast majority of Denny's are situated next to freeways and major highways. There are some exceptions though. One I know of is situated near the Convention Center in Portland and is an older location that has been open for years. There are a handful of (mostly older)downtown type locations that do well, although a fair number of these have closed as traffic shifted toward freeways.

The only truly "new" location I can think of recently was that one I mentioned at Jantzen Beach, which took over an existing former Newport Bay restaurant that had closed. But this actually replaced a 1960s era Denny's nearby that was situated closer to the freeway. They did take over a former Sizzler in Vancouver, WA but it wasn't open for long, and Denny's eventually left Vancouver.

In the mid-1990s, the franchisee that owned the Denny's in Longview and Kelso opened a new-build location in Warrenton, Oregon. They closed the older Longview location (demolished, now home to a KFC/A&W combo) and the Warrenton location ended up closing, which became a Dooger's Seafood restaurant. The Kelso location is still doing well.

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Re: Denny's in decline?

Post by Jeff » August 1st, 2018, 9:07 pm

Dennys opened a stand alone store far from the freeway 8 years ago in East Los Angeles. Its been doing good business and is not far from two freeways, but you can't really get to it easily from either.

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Re: Denny's in decline?

Post by storewanderer » August 1st, 2018, 11:36 pm

Denny's has been active in going into casinos in Nevada as well. Most recently they took over the long standing restaurant in the Hotel Nevada out in Ely. Kind of a historical type of place and I'm a little surprised they did this. Food is a money loser for casinos so perhaps subleasing it out makes sense. Casinos are a complicated enough business as it is and when you are a small casino operator maybe it is just too much to make the food service operation work.

There is a Denny's Franchisee who seems to be leasing space inside these small casinos. He has one in Fernley, NV, one in Beatty, NV, etc.

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Re: Denny's in decline?

Post by SamSpade » August 2nd, 2018, 10:29 am

I love this board sometimes, @Storewanderer, you just led me to Ely, Nevada. Something I probably wouldn't have done on my own.

Sounds like people preferred the old casino restaurant to Denny's, but it's a rather nice looking remodel.

Back to the Portland area Denny's discussion, someone mentioned the location at the corner of Hassalo and Grand. It really is kind of in disrepair. The roof is moss covered and wasting away. They now have a large sign pointing out their hours (not 24 hours). I guess because Denny's is a franchise, there is some leeway. They are open 6 am to 1 am. It has a parking lot. This lot is probably primed for redevelopment as the inner city density grows. Someone would need to purchase the adjacent Red Robin as well.

The Denny's in NE Portland (near mall 205) was so terrible a few years back I have really not wanted to return. The one on Hayden Island (Jantzen Beach)revenue is likely boosted by its Oregon Lottery video lottery (slot) machines. I do admit that this location has always been OK though, both in the old building and the new.

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