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Jul 15, 2011 10:17 AM

Why would anyone go to Denny’s these days?

In my college days, the Denny’s grand slam breakfast was a favorite low-cost restaurant breakfast. While not rising above average, it was decent coffee shop food.

The recent ‘value menu’ and “Tour of America” promotion sucked me in … and sucked my breath away. It is expensive for what it is and the value menu doesn’t have all that many values … unless $2 for two pancakes seems like a value to you.

Four bucks will get you all the pancakes you can eat … served two at a time … other restrictions apply. The value slam is in this category.

On the regular menu a cheeseburger is $8.69 … ok, it is served with fries, but still. And who is spending $17 for a t-bone steak here? A chicken strip appetizer - $7.69?

Regular breakfasts average about $9 … add $2 for coffee … Denny’s coffee.

I went with the $6 limited addition to the value menu – Italian meatloaf sandwich with fries. On this one I’ll give Denny’s credit for value in terms of quantity of food.

The roll itself was the brown and serve type of white bread that fast food restaurants kid themselves (or customers) into the illusion of house-baked panini. The meatloaf just tasted like salt and wasn’t very meat loaf-y. The bacon, sauce or mozzarella added anything to the Italian-ness or even flavor of this. The sauce was like any jarred supermarket sauce.

The look of the fries was off-putting, but they were good. I like medium cut fries. They have some sort of wavy potato cutter so it looked liked mashed potatoes that had been formed into fries. It turned out though they were cut potatoes, soft-ish, but not greasy. Points for Heinz catsup.

Still … $6 for a sandwich, add $2.29 for a soft drink, tax and tip … that is over $10 to eat at Denny’s … and that is the VALUE menu. Most breakfasts would be $15 per person, ditto on lunch … and dinner could run close to $20 … without dessert … or soup.

It is still standard coffee shop décor which is fine. However, with McDonalds plans to upgrade the décor, if I was really looking for value, I’d take my business there.

These days, I find fast food and chain food so close in price to good restaurant food I can’t see the point. At a local restaurant I can get an omelet with organic eggs and hash browns made from the local farmers market for the same price as the Denny’s omelet.

It makes me a bit sad. Denny’s was never great or even a above average coffee shop/diner. However, you could get decent food and a good price.

If I was a struggling college student these days, I wouldn’t be at Denny’s. I recently acquired 3 step kids. Will I be spending $50 or more dollars for breakfast or lunch at Denny’s? I think not. Who does that and why?

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    1. re: inaplasticcup

      Ahaha, eww.

      The last time I went to Denny's I was traveling and I was with a friend who eats there often. (We're both in college.) Depending on where you are in the country and what you order, it can be quite a lot of food for the money and I guess some people see value in that. Not everyone who goes to places like Denny's has palates like ours.

      1. re: inaplasticcup

        Gosh you are so cute +inaplasticcup

        1. re: jomtup

          She's a lot more than cute -- read her amazing food writing. Great information that's quite fun to read.

      2. Moons Over My Hammy. Stupid name, delicious sandwich. And yes, I've had one recently so I can say that. Paid for it with water retention but that's par for the course for any sandwich I eat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MandalayVA

          Stupid name? Really? I think it's a clever play on words.

        2. Unfortunately, there are places that have very few options for late night/early morning dining. Like Dayton, Ohio. The college-geared club scene isn't bad, but for afterwards there's Denny's, Waffle House and Steak N Shake. That's about it. Denny's is the only one fairly close to the University of Dayton and downtown night spots.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Fibber McGee

            We used to always go there after the library closed at 2.a.m. Super Bird! (Moons Over My Hammy is a close second)

            Foreign students and visitors like the place because the menu has so many photographs. Just point to order.

            1. re: Fibber McGee

              That is one plus for chains llike Denny's ... they open early when little else is open. Still, if money was the issued, I'd still choose McDonalds over Denny's. Yes, the menu is more extensive at Denny's ... anyone tried the pineapple puppies>? .. but for the basics McDonald's is just as good, imo.

              1. re: rworange

                Actually, it isn't that they open early-they never close- except Christmas Day. Until 1988 there were no locks on the doors...


                1. re: Cathy

                  Christmas is open.. I work there and no time for family because is you don't show up to work, you are fired!! That simple.. :(

              2. re: Fibber McGee

                Denny's was our 2:00am food stop when we were on the road driving back from a rock concert or three. I still associate the chain with short term hearing loss because of that.

              3. The original comment has been removed
                1. I ate at one last week actually. We were on vacation in Bismarck N.D., and our breakfast options were the horrible restaurant in the hotel, denny's, perkins, or cracker barrel.

                  Denny's was actually surprisingly good. The food was tasty, the service was prompt and efficient, they were just a little confused by my order of tomato juice and had to re-check with me three times that I didn't want orange. It got silly.