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January 10 was a big day for Auburn University. Not only did the Tigers play for and win the BCS national championship game for college football, but the school welcomed the nation’s seventh nontraditional Denny’s unit.
The new unit, Denny’s AllNighter, is a quick-serve concept in the school’s West View Village dining hall that will stay open until 1 a.m.
Greg Powell, vice president of concept development for Denny’s, says the new Denny’s unit reflects the brand’s push to attract a younger demographic.
“You see a brand in college, and wherever you go after school … you carry some of those habits forward,” Powell says. “For us, we really reinvented Denny’s for on-campus locations, so Denny’s AllNighter has cool, hip graphics. It’s a different menu, much more portable.”
Denny’s AllNighter features several breakfast menu options, including the brand’s signature Original Grand Slam, as well as burgers, sandwiches, and a line of “Munchies”—snacks that include Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, Chicken Strips, and Smothered Cheese Fries.
AllNighter, which is a spin-off of the branded late-night menu Denny’s launched a few years ago, joins Denny’s Fresh Express and Denny’s Café as concepts that refine the traditional Denny’s store model. There are also AllNighter units on the campuses of Florida State University, Cal Poly Pomona, and the University of Idaho.
Powell says Denny’s units near universities tend to see a late-night rush of students, and the AllNighter model was a way to “take the concept to them, but obviously in a much smaller package,” he says.
The unit at Auburn was done in partnership with Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, a division of the Compass Group—the first time Denny’s has worked with the contract foodservice management provider. Powell says Denny’s also has worked with Sodexo and Aramark.
“We want to expand rapidly and leverage the relationships with particularly those three companies,” Powell says. “They’re preeminent players on the college market.”
Despite a snowstorm, the fact that it was the first day of school, and the Big Game that dominated student’s attentions on January 10, Powell says the Auburn Denny’s AllNighter opened to great success.
“The excitement level was great, and we did some pretty big volume for the first day of school and a lot of other stuff going on,” Powell says. “And we got an extra bonus—Auburn won the national championship.”
By Sam Oches