Dining At Denny's For The Next Generation

The Lempert Report
March 27, 2023

On today’s Bullseye –Denny’s wants to be ‘the” diner for a new generation. The chain has spent over $25 million to upgrade its kitchens and along with that has redesigned its menu offerings. Technology is playing a key role in the form of augmented reality that is designed to bring “the brand to life”. The idea is to create a journey as we turn the pages of their menu – just scan with your phone and there are interactive games as well as exclusive deals. Not to be outdone by other foodservice chains you can also – of course – go to dinerdrip.com to buy Denny’s merchandise: a rolling pin, hats, t-shirts, tote bags, playing cards, loungewear, a sleep mask and even an original Levi’s trucker jacket. Anything you can imagine – except the food. For food you have to go to Dennys.com. I do wonder that if this is all about building the brand – why don’t they call the website DennysDiner.com? DinerDrip just doesn’t make it for me. The Denny’s team also gets a uniform refresh. Denny’s is clearly out to get our dinner time meals and expand their image beyond a place for breakfast or lunch. It’s a smart strategy especially as the cost of eating out is more affordable than making dinner at home these days. The menu features two new sections – Dinner Classics Plus and Savory Diners Spotlight. So what’s on the menu? According to their press release 

  • Red, White & Blue Pancakes – Fluffy blueberry pancakes made with real buttermilk are topped with fresh strawberries and cream cheese icing for the ultimate bite morning, noon or night. Served with two cage-free eggs, crispy hash browns, plus two pieces of bacon or two sausage links. Doesn’t sound like dinner to me.
  • Spicy Moons Over My Hammy – A bold new take on a fan-favorite stacks savory ham, spicy chorizo and scrambled eggs with Swiss and American cheeses plus pickled jalapeños on perfectly grilled artisan bread. Sandwich is served with crispy hash browns on the side. Still not dinner.
  • Very Strawberry Cheesecake Milk Shake – Strawberry and rich cheesecake bites are blended with premium hand-dipped ice cream and topped with real whipped cream. Maybe lunch?
  • Mac N’ Brisket Sizzlin’ Skillet – Slow-smoked brisket bursting with flavor is served on a bed of creamy oven-baked mac 'n cheese and topped with three beer-battered onion rings and a drizzle of BBQ sauce that packs a punch. Dinner – finally.
  • Oven-Baked Lasagna – A savory four-cheese and seasoned beef combination is wrapped in a traditional pasta shell and smothered in Italian sausage and beef meat sauce for a taste of home. It’s topped with Wisconsin provolone cheese and served with classic dinner bread. 
  • Oven baked Mac & Cheese
  • And Strawberry Pancake Puppies - bite-sized pancake rounds made with strawberries and white chocolate chips and is sprinkled with
    powdered sugar and served with cream cheese icing. Back to breakfast.

Denny’s Instagram page has 271,000 followers – that’s great – but only 253 posts. Facebook over 1.4 million followers, on Twitter over 433,000, TikTok not so robust with only 32,000 followers. If in fact Denny’s wants to expand their customer base – they need to have a stronger social media presence. On most of their pages they only post about once a week. They set up a great promotion in New York City for daylight savings time – a bottomless free coffee on tap bar from 6am to 2pm. Their YouTube video only has 455 views. Don’t get me wrong – I like Denny’s – especially their cheese omelets – they are doing a lot right – but if they are going to be successful for dinner – especially with Millennials and Gen Z – they are going to have to do more. A lot more. On social media and on their dinner menu offerings. Timing is right with the economy forget about selling Denny’s merch and focus on the food.