Denny's Exec: The Diner Was the ‘Original Social Network’

Photo Credit: Alan Diaz/AP/Shutterstock
May 17, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

Before the era of smartphones, Twitter, and instant internet connection, a breakfast diner was the “original social network” in the United States, a Denny’s executive said.

“There wasn't social media, so diners were where people when to relax and unwind and reconnect,” John Dillon, Denny’s chief brand officer, told Cheddar in an interview Friday.

In recent years, Denny’s has worked to bring back that sense of community to its chain restaurants across the country. The franchised chain, which was founded in 1953, has already remodeled and updated the menus at 80 percent of its locations in the U.S.

“It used to feel more like a cafeteria,” Dillon said. “Now it feels more like somewhere you can relax, be yourself, and unwind, which is the point of our new campaign.”

Dillon said the restaurants have been updated with warmer, more inviting colors, and the menus have been expanded to include a wider array of options. “Every week we are meeting in our test kitchen and trying hundreds of new items,” he said.

Denny’s ($DENN) currently operates 1,705 franchised, licensed, and company restaurants in the U.S. and 11 other countries. The company reported $151 million in operating revenue and $98.5 million in restaurant sales in the first quarter of 2019. Denny’s stock has also been up over 20 percent since the beginning of the year.

“We are pleased with the initial progress of our refranchising and development strategy which we believe will enable us to further evolve into a franchisor of choice in the industry, providing more focused support services,” John Miller, Denny’s president and CEO, said in a statement.