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Restaurant Happenings - January 2004

989 N. Highway 191 (at the north entrance of town) 259-8839

The Grand Slam of Grand County
by Annabelle Numaguchi

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.

As 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 menu.

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.

Kevin 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 fifty years.

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 dentist offices.

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


Meat Lover’s Breakfast

2 eggs
Grated potatoes
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.

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