My grandfather was born
at Denny’s. At least, that’s what I grew up
believing. He took his first breath shortly after the turn
of the century (that is, two turns ago) delivered in his
parent’s home in Salt Lake City. Eventually, his home
(and entire neighborhood) was torn down and rebuilt as a
commercial district and the restaurant built over the foundation
of my grandfather’s first house was Denny’s.
As a little girl, I was told every time we passed that particular
franchise, “That’s where your grandfather was
born.” I therefore felt a certain amount of affection
and kinship with the diner and associated a certain homey
quality with each restaurant.
I grew older, my vision of Denny’s metamorphosed.
Late night hunger pangs in college constituted my only reason
for downing hearty, diner food. Nothing hits the spot at
three in the morning like a tall stack of golden buttermilk
pancakes rimmed in glistening sausage links, as anyone who
has pulled an all nighter either studying or dancing knows.
After college, I considered myself worthy of moving on to
the next echelon of dining, which meant eschewing Denny’s
altogether—until I visited Spain. All night dancing
is not a college rite of passage in the Mediterranean; it’s
a way of life. So after enough grooving to Spanish rhythms,
our local hosts offered to treat us to a late-night supper
at the Denny’s in Madrid. The restaurant that greeted
us was a far cry from the greasy spoon diner I’d known
in college. El Denny’s à la espagnol was an
upscale all-night eatery with linen napkins and an array
of tasty Spanish dishes in addition to the copious American
It’s not unusual for American franchises to take on
new characteristics when moving overseas. Perhaps some of
this polish has permeated the home diners because when I
visited our local Denny’s recently, I was pleasantly
impressed with its cheeriness, cleanliness and genial atmosphere.
Denny’s has returned to its roots as a family-style
diner where you can get a decent cup of coffee, a stack
of flapjacks or a slice of apple pie any time of the day,
any day of the week.
Morris, the new general manager since April, embodies this
new spirit. He greeted me with a warm smile and a festive
Christmas tie that enlivened his neat, business attire and
manners. He is himself a family man with four children and
knows how to create an environment that is friendly and
receptive to all generations.
Although new to Moab, he displays a value and understanding
of the local population by promoting services to draw Moabites
in. He describes his goal as, “I’d like to see
the residents of Moab eat here on a regular basis, day in,
day out.” He must be onto something as I noticed another
local restaurateur eating breakfast on the day of my interview.
Kevin assured me that this was not an anomaly and that this
restaurateur was not the only one who chooses to dine here.
Denny’s menu is almost overwhelmingly large but it
relies on one theme — good old fashioned American
food. The photo on the cover of the main menu immortalizes
these comforting diner basics with its fluffy French toast
slathered in maple syrup and ringed in bacon and sausages,
its piled-high cheeseburger and fries, and the quartered
club sandwich revealing its interior of turkey, bacon, mayo,
ripe tomato and lettuce. The dessert menu is equally large
and colorful, exhibiting a gallery of decadent but recognizable
sweets, including the Creamy Cheesecake, the Banana Split,
Caramel Apple Crisp and a variety of sundaes and shakes.
Denny’s has long been equated with the concept of
a diner. This is the restaurant who invented the original
Grand Slam breakfast, a cornucopia of pancakes, eggs, bacon
and sausage. They extend their menu to keep up with the
times or tastes of the locals (like finding paella on the
Madrid Denny’s menu), but they remain true to the
diner favorites that have kept customers coming in for over
Denny’s offers more than just good comfort food to
draw people in. It’s no wonder the diner is experiencing
a new wave of success under Kevin’s management. Through
the month of January, kids under 10 eat free from 4 to 10
p.m. (a gift offered on Tuesdays throughout the year). Denny’s
also offers a 10% local’s discount. Considering the
low prices and satisfying food, how can a family afford
not to dine out here?
Kevin’s commitment to tying Denny’s to the local
community extends beyond the restaurant. Denny’s is
now sponsoring a Reading Program with both the elementary
and middle schools. They also help high school students
raise money for their activity and athletic teams by giving
out Gold Cards entitling the buyer to a 20% discount at
the diner. In addition, they donate Bravery Awards (and
a free meal) to kids at Allen Memorial Hospital and local
Kids aren’t the only ones who’ve gotten extra
attention from Denny’s. Now a complete Seniors menu
is available to diners 55 years of age and above. Prices
are lower and healthier options like Egg Beaters, sugar-free
syrup and soybean oil for frying are available.
As I reacquaint myself yet again with Denny’s, I realize
that my image of the restaurant has come full circle. The
diner does indeed exude a homey, family atmosphere. With
free kids’ dinners, a senior’s menu and healthy
diet options, there is something for everyone, no matter
what age. Denny’s scores a hit with the whole family.
It’s truly a grand slam in Grand County..
Recipe of the Month
2 thick slices of bacon
2 sausage links
1 slice of grilled honey ham
3 fluffy buttermilk pancakes (made in advance)
Crack the eggs and fry them
on medium heat. In a separate pan, heat some oil
and grill potatoes until they are hash browns.
Add salt and other herbs to taste as the hash
browns are cooking. Remove potatoes and grill
bacon strips and sausage links in the same pan.
Grill the slice of honey ham. Arrange eggs, hash
browns, bacon, sausage, ham and pancakes on a
platter. Dig in!
Denny’s is located at
989 N. Highway 191 (at the north entrance of town) and can
be reached at 259-8839. They are open 24 hours a day, although
a slightly limited menu is served from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Entrees average around $6.50. Through the month of January,
kids eat free from 4 to 10 p.m.