I don’t believe Denny’s gets the respect it deserves.
Ubiquitous as a roadside waystop, seemingly in every other town and every other exit off the interstate, Denny’s is either perceived as hopelessly boring or else a beacon in the night for weary travelers in need of strong coffee and maybe a little food.
People think of Denny’s and they think of breakfast. Eggs and pancakes. Bacon and toast. Lots of coffee. So Denny’s attempted to give itself a makeover and assume a new image, that of “America’s diner.” They updated their menu to include more kinds of hamburgers, appetizers, dinner entrées.
So what do the folks like to order with all these new choices? The “Build Your Own Grand Slam.” So we’re right back at square one with breakfast. Poor Denny’s. It can be hard to reshape your image. At least they have a sense of humor about it. They have a giant poster inside the door that proclaims in oversized letters: “Breakfast for dinner? We’re open for that.”
They better be. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, breakfast is as breakfast does.
My chief problem with Denny’s is that, once you get past the Grand Slam, I never know what to expect. One day they’re doing the build your own hamburger thing, where you take a pencil and circle the fixings you want on a little form and then name your burger. Next visit they’re doing some Tolkien Hobbit thing. At the moment, it’s Baconalia. They even have a bacon ice cream sundae. If Denny’s is seeking to gain notoriety through being disgusting, I do believe they are on the right track.
What I find truly amazing is their $2-$4-$6-$8 menu. They’ve had this feature for a while nows, and it actually features some deliciously satisfying, if greasy, items. Today, for example, I treated myself to a cheese quesadilla appetizer, with sour cream and pico de gallo on the side. Two bucks. Now who can beat that price? That’s about the same price as a fast food quesadilla through the drive-in, which doesn’t come with sour cream or pico. Admittedly, the quesadilla and our local, family-run Mexican restaurant is a bit larger and a bit tastier, but it’s also greasier and costs more than twice as much.
Then I ordered the Everyday Value Slam, also from the 2-4-6-8 menu. Breakfast for dinner. I’m so glad they’re open for that.
You get two eggs any style, two pancakes and your choice of bacon or sausage. I don’t eat meat, so they gladly substituted fried redskin potatoes. It was almost more food than I could eat and it was four dollars.
Actually, $4 was the menu price. For me, however, it was FREE.
That’s right: Free, no charge, gratis. That’s because, when I paid my bill on my last visit, the cash register spit out a receipt that offered me a free Everyday Value Slam if I went online and completed a brief survey at www.dennyslistens.com. There were just a few questions; it didn’t take me five minutes to complete it and obtain a code to write on the receipt.
You think this is unusual? Well, I will tell you that I get a survey offer for a free meal on about every second or third visit. The prize used to be a free Build Your Own Grand Slam; these days it’s the slightly smaller (3 items rather than 4) Everyday Value Slam.
So you have to pay for your beverage, big deal. The bottom line is that a very filling meal, when it’s not free, is only four dollars. You can’t get out of the fast food drive-through for that price.
Forget about their reputation. Denny’s rocks!