Denny’s Great Marketing Disaster

Greek Family Restaurants

Do I really need to tell you what Denny’s is? For those watching the super bowl, besides watching a great game, we could indulge in some award winning commercials. Take the Denny’s commercial, with the mob guys talking, and the waitress squirting whipped cream into their breakfast. Then we hear the surprise announcement. Free grand slam breakfast on Tuesday.

Hold it! Greek families run many family restaurants in the US. Where I live, some are very good, and some are very bad. The food prices are about the same. You can get a good (or bad) meal for under $10. You’ll find people eating at both good and bad Greek run restaurants. You’ll find these restaurants in business for many years. I’m not talking about Greek food. I’m talking about American food. Why are some good and some bad? Perhaps some Greeks don’t know how to cook.

What about Denny’s?

What does Denny’s have to do with Greek family restaurants, both good and bad? Well, in my humble opinion – and you are free to differ – the grand slam is just a notch above bad Greek family restaurants. But in our down and out economy, I ‘m willing to risk everything, for a free meal. Twice I attempted to get this freebee – once at 6:30 AM and once at 11 AM. Both times had mobs of people, lined up outside. Both times saw the parking lot full.

Let’s learn from Seinfeld?

Why is this a bad thing, you ask? Let’s explore some points together. Have you ever watched Seinfeld? I know they sometimes eat in an apparent family diner. Remember the episode where George tried to make love to a woman, and eat a submarine sandwich, at the same time? It was a disaster, of the highest making. It’s about as bad as Kramer driving the fire truck. Denny’s giving the free Grand Slam, is only a notch above the Seinfeld examples. It reminds me of a Bugs Bunny cartoon…Yosemite Sam is locked inside a T.N.T. shed, with a dragon suffering from a bad sinus attack.

Ah-Choo! Ka-Boom! Welcome to the free Grand Slam!

  1.  How many tables in a typical Denny’s restaurant?
  2. How many waitresses and waiters are usually there?
  3. How many cooks are present?
  4. How many supplies are on hand?
  5. What is the average time a family sits down, to eat a meal?


Open the flood-gates, and enter a mob of hundreds, from 6 AM to 2 PM. What does it spell?


Randy Kemp



2 thoughts on “Denny’s Great Marketing Disaster

  1. Randy,

    The biggest stumbling block I had with the Denny’s offer was that it was during working hours. Had they offered an alternate time other than a weekday morning I would have been there. So they end up catering primarily to seniors – the fixed income folk. Yes, Yes, I know not every senior is on fixed income. But the ones that arent’ don’t have time to come to Denny’s during the hours offered for the free meal. And with a restaurant whose name is already well known giving something away for free would only tend to bring people in to eat for free. There really isn’t an upsell opportunity here for the restaurant. I imagine these people are going to come to Denny’s after the free offer is over no more or less than they had been before.

    Regarding the wait, yes, bad planning. Another reason I wouldn’t have even tried to take advantage of it. Denny’s has always been slow, though. I used to joke about it – that it must be some Denny’s corporate mantra – seat slowly and serve even more slowly. No matter what Denny’s I ever go to, no matter what city or state, the service is very very slow.

    Oh, and I’d like to gently mention that waitress and waiter are not PC terms. The job is the same no matter the gender. They’re food servers.

  2. Sharon:
    Thanks for sharing. A funny thing happened to me. I drove by Denny’s the day after the special, and it looked like a ghost town.

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