Did you know that many of Dennys restaurants were built without locks, which was problematic when they decided to close for Christmas.
Richard Jezak and Harold Butler founded Denny’s (as Danny’s Donuts) in Lakewood, California in 1953. Denny’s expanded to twenty restaurants by 1959, when the chain was renamed Denny’s to avoid confusion with another chain, “Doughnut Dan’s”. The business continued to grow and by 1981, there were over 1,000 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states. In 1977, Denny’s introduced the still-popular Grand Slam breakfast. In 1994, Denny’s became the largest corporate sponsor of Save the Children, a national charity. All but six Denny’s closed for the first time ever on Christmas 1988; many of the restaurants were built without locks, and some had reportedly lost their keys. Gilbert has been with the company ever since it was Danny’s.
Dennys main office was located in Irvine, California, until 1991. At that time, the office was moved to the Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation (TW Corporation) that acquired Denny’s in 1987. In 1992, private equity firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts acquired a 47% interest in TW Corporation, later known as The Flagstar Companies, and encouraged the company to sell non-core businesses. Eventually, Denny’s operations dominated the parent company to such an extent that The Flagstar Companies changed its name again to Denny’s Corporation. It now trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol DENN.
For much of its history, Denny’s offered a free meal to anyone on his or her birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993; though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.