Denny’s History + My Late Night Eating Favorites

I frequent Denny’s in Coral Gables, Doral, Virginia Gardens, and Westchester all over Miami. So what can I say that you don’t already know about this place?

Denny’s has never been anything more than an after-hours type place. It’s not the spot I think of when I’m starving and looking for some good soul-fulfilling grub.

Is there some comforting food here? Sure. Is it few and far between? Possibly.

I always want to order an appetizer here, although I always end up disappointed no matter what it is except one. I have the “I could have made this myself at home feeling” about their appetizers.

Yet, that does not stop me from getting their generic chicken strips sloppily tossed and partially covered in buffalo sauce.

Zesty Nachos from Dennys in Miami, Florida
Zesty Nachos

Marcela has an unnatural obsession with nachos. Sometimes, she’ll order nachos over a sandwich or breakfast. But, hey, you gotta do you boo!

Loaded Jalapeño Cheddar Tots from Dennys in Miami, Florida
Loaded Jalapeño Cheddar Tots

I like their Loaded Jalapeño Cheddar Tots with that exquisite jalapeño cheese sauce; it fills a nice late-night void. However,

Denny’s Burger Talk

I’ve said in the past that I would have gotten a more flavorful burger if I had eaten my Chuck Taylor’s instead of Denny’s burger patty. 

I know a few people who believe that the burgers are amazing at Denny’s, but I would take that with a grain of salt since they also think Bring It On is a great movie.

Denny's Double Cheeseburger
Denny’s Double Cheeseburger

Recently (aka a few years back), Denny’s changed their burgers for the better. No more generic, frozen, perfectly round patties. It was a definite improvement with their new fresh burgers.

The change in burgers brought with it a tasty Patty Melt.

Hash Browns from Dennys in Miami, Florida
Hash Browns

Where else can you get a side of hash browns instead of fries? Don’t say IHOP cause their burgers are not on the same level.

Apple Crisp from Dennys in Miami, Florida
Caramel Apple Pie Crisp

If you’ve left room for a dessert, you need the Caramel Apple Pie Crisp in your life. This beauty is served warm and will have you rushing home to take a nap afterward.

Denny’s Claw Machine

Claw Machine from Dennys in Miami, Florida
Claw Machine

And, as is the custom at Keg South in Kendall, Marcela needs to make sure she loses everyone’s one-dollar bills and quarters at the claw machine on the way out. But, unlike Marcela, Fred‘s winning percentage is excellent at the claw machine.

One time at this same Denny’s restaurant location, Fred won some crappy stuffed animal in the claw machine.

Before he could get it out of the little holding area, some little kid ran up to the machine, took it out, and ran away with it. Of course, Fred let the little thief keep it; I know I wouldn’t have.

Denny’s History

In 1953, Harold Butler and Richard Jezak opened a nine-hundred-square-foot donut shop in Lakewood, California, called Danny’s Do-Nuts, selling donuts filled with jam (not jelly) and high-grade coffee.

Instantly successful, they quickly added a second location in Garden Grove that was twice the size. Unfortunately, it was not as well-received, so they added a grill to sell hamburgers.

Jezak left the company in 1955, and a year later, Butler changed to a twenty-four-hour coffee shop with the opening of the eighth restaurant.

Danny's Do-Nuts Ad in the Independent Press Telegram 09-11-55
Danny’s Do-Nuts Franchising Ad in the Independent Press Telegram 09-11-55

Danny’s Do-Nuts would now be known as Danny’s Coffee Shops.

to serve the best cup of coffee, make the best donuts, give the best service, offer the best value, and stay open twenty-four hours a day.

Danny's Donuts Coffee Shop in California
Danny’s Donuts Coffee Shop in California

In 1959, Butler worried about customers confusing Danny’s Coffee Shops with the Los Angeles restaurant chain Coffee Dan’s. So the name was changed to Denny’s Coffee Shops and then shortened to Denny’s in 1961.

Butler saw the car revolution in California and had the foresight to build a restaurant chain to fill those needs. Many consider him to have pioneered fast service, high volume, low prices, and uniform menus at every location.

Denny's in The Star Press 2-18-82
The Star Press 2-18-82

Franchising started in 1963, and by 1981 there were well over a thousand restaurants. After minimal building and sign design changes, Denny’s converted many former Sambo’s Pancake House restaurant locations.

A Denny’s Classic Diner concept opened in Fort Myers on May 13, 1997. The three thousand-square-foot prefabricated building emulates a 1950s diner. It’s funny to see things come full circle like this.

The Denny’s Classic Diner, which seats 117 customers, added more locations in the United States. But sadly, many of them have closed over the last couple of years.

2 Quirky Facts about Denny’s

1 – In 1977, the Grand Slam breakfast made its debut at an Atlanta Denny’s location. It was a nod to baseball player Hank Aaron, who had bested Babe Ruth’s home run record three years earlier.

2 – Denny’s famously attempted to close for the first time on Christmas Day in 1988. The only problem was that seven hundred locations had lost their keys or never even had locks. Nevertheless, all but about fifty to sixty franchised locations stayed open for the holiday.

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