May 23, 2008

Overnight, Denny's Wants to Rock

Dennys%20Sasquatch.jpgForget the Denny's in Ballard, the one that started as a Manning's, with the architecture of a Southern California McDonald's. It's toast. The Denny's where it's happening is the one in SoDo, at 4th and Lander. And the one in Bellevue. And the one in Tukwila.

"Happening" and "Denny's" are not two words one expects to find in the same sentence, but these are tough times in the restaurant biz, and a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do. For Denny's, bedrock of middle America, facing a two-year downtrend in revenue, that means going after the late-night crowd. Not the high-rolling Belltown hipsters at Viceroy and Wasabi Bistro, but the hungry 20-somethings who just want to hang out after the bars close.

First things first: a new website,, complete with links to corporate-looking MySpace and Facebook pages. (Kinda cheesy, actually.) At the heart of this "New Denny's" is an "adopt-a-band" program. Touring costs for musicians are high, says the website, so the company is sponsoring selected bands to eat for free (and to host after-parties) at local Denny's while on they're on the road.

Gotta admit, it's a ballsy concept for a restaurant whose top-selling breakfasts are called Grand Slam and Moon Over My Hammy. And whose usual late-night crowd consists of factory workers coming off the swing shift. But they're putting their money where it counts: Denny's is the only restaurant among the dozen sponsors of this weekend's Sasquatch festival.

Since the first of the month, the Denny's uniform of black pants and collared shirt is being replaced (overnight) by jeans and T-shirts. The music's switched over from middle-of-the-road to alternative rock, and nacho cheese fries have been added to the overnight menu. "There's a time when Denny's was cool," says ceo Nelson Marchioli. "We can get back there."

Posted by Ronald Holden at May 23, 2008 3:00 PM | TrackBack

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You know, when I was growing up and was in high-school... on weekends we'd all sneak in to clubs with illegal I.D. and afterwards we'd go to Denny's at 3 in the morning... The Secret is... for a late-night crowd, Denny's has ALWAYS been cool. Thrilled to hear it's coming back.

Posted by: David at May 24, 2008 4:51 PM
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