America's Diner Continues to Grow: Denny's stays relevant as it enters emerging markets

Denny’s, known as America’s Diner, is one of the most recognized brands in the business. “Our brand awareness is nearly 100 percent,” says Doug Wong, senior director of franchise recruitment at Denny’s. “We consistently outperform our peers as the leader in the family dining category.” With more than 1,700 locations worldwide after more than 60 years as a company, Denny’s remains a powerhouse. It still, however, has room for development in many markets.

About 90 percent of its stores are franchised. Denny’s is committed to its franchisees. “Our franchisees believe in the concept,” Wong says. “They help us grow and build and develop new restaurants, and always support the brand.” Denny’s now has a significant number of new locations in development, and plans to open 35 to 45 new stores this year. Franchisees with Denny’s receive field-based real estate advice, the help of a project manager in building their restaurant, and ongoing support in advertising, operations, and supply chain issues.

This year, Denny’s is offering an incentive to new franchisees who commit to developing a minimum of two new restaurants in a market designated as “new and emerging.” Denny’s has a presence in all 50 states in the U.S., but most of the mid-western states, as well as the area east of the Mississippi River, are considered new and emerging markets. New franchisees who open two restaurants in these territories can save up to $280,000 in reduced rates and fees, and for those who open six restaurants in new and emerging markets, the savings can add up to as much as $1 million.

Candidates should have a minimum of $350,000 in liquid assets and a minimum $1 million net worth. “Potential franchisees should examine the Denny’s brand, just as we will examine them,” Wong says. “We want to make sure there’s a good fit. We want people who have the heart for this business, who will put in the work 24/7, and who will be the local face of Denny’s in their communities.”

New franchisees and the managers they hire attend 12 weeks of training, covering all aspects of operations and learning how a Denny’s restaurant works inside and out. A New Restaurant Opening (NRO) team from Denny’s corporate headquarters helps orchestrate the grand opening, training employees and assisting with other area of operations.

Denny’s high brand recognition is due in part to its responsive social media presence and its unique add-ons that drive social media engagement, such as the Las Vegas location with a wedding chapel inside and the “high-end” Manhattan location with a full bar. “We are a 63-years-’young’ public company that will continue to grow,” Wong says. “We have the best brand awareness and relevancy in the market. We know our better days are still ahead of us.” 

For more information about franchising opportunities with Denny's, visit