Denny’s 2023

Oct 2, 2023 | Insights, Restaurant Research

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Executive Summary

Denny’s unique “America’s Diner” brand positioning provides the promise of everyday value with craveable, comfort food served around the clock in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The chain’s menu positioning reflects the idea that consumers want to indulge when they dine-out because they can stay home for something plain & simple and, to this end, its Build Your Own Grand Slam represents one of its most popular menu items (choose 4 menu items: eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage & toast). Denny’s is building appeal with a younger demo by emphasizing: breakfast for dinner; menu customization; “On Demand” to-go/delivery platform; and 24/7 availability as the FSR late-night daypart leader. Also, the chain seeks to convert high brand awareness into trial & frequency by extending its menu positioning beyond breakfast all-day with trusted lunch/dinner offers around its burgers, melts & skillets. New kitchen & tech platform initiatives are designed to enhance the guest experience, drive operational efficiencies, and enable the provision of enhanced menu offerings across all dayparts (but particularly during dinner with new comfort food entrees, sides & desserts). A 16% value mix is driven by its All-Day Diner Deals platform (including the 2Q23 return of its $7.99/$9.99 signature Super Slam) to go with its 15% AARP discount for seniors & kids eat free deal. Having said all this, sales headwinds include: ongoing economic challenges on Denny’s core low-income demo; the challenge to staff sufficiently in a tight labor market given that servers can typically make more tips at higher-end casual restaurants; and slow progress in maximizing its 24/7 system penetration. Further, the chain has more work to drive frequency and trial sufficient to overcome the system’s actual dollar unit-level EBITDAR profit underperformance which is a function of a relatively low AUV. In conclusion, while Denny’s management team is executing well around a very solid strategy, the chain remains challenged to drive needed AUV growth especially at a time when its core low-income customers remain stressed by unfavorable economic conditions.

Denny's Market Share Graph

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