Trendwire, June 5, 2008

Trendwire, June 5, 2008

Food & Drink

Trendwire, June 5, 2008



The Food Channel Trendwire
June 5, 2008 • Volume 22, Number 11 •

Denny’s Rocks Late Night—Literally

Even while restaurants are competing for the all-important breakfast dollar, the bastion of breakfast, Denny’s (, is working to hold its own. One way it’s doing this is by embracing the late-night love, reminding people that they are open 24 hours a day. (What student doesn’t remember hitting Denny’s long after all the other restaurants and most bars are closed?) New menus, new music, and new uniforms are all combining to give Denny’s an image transformation.

In a press release last week, Denny’s ( announced its new late-night plan with a renewed philosophy and a new website, Denny’s AllNighter ( The new website promotes the chain’s attempt to reconnect with core late-night consumers, 18- to 24-year-olds, by embracing its reputation as an after-party joint, complete with a new tagline: “Nothing good happens after midnight except Denny’s.” It’s also utilizing the ubiquitous social networking sites such as MySpace ( and Facebook ( to keep its fans apprised of what’s going on.

It has launched an interesting sponsorship program called Adopt-A-Band. From the website: “Times are tough for touring artists and Denny’s wants to help. Denny’s restaurants has just launched a unique new music program entitled Adopt-a-Band to provide free meals, promotional support, and concert after-parties to ‘adopted’ bands on tour across the U.S.” Bands can apply to become adopted, and fans can vote for their favorite at the site. Current adoptees include Foxy Shazam, EndeverafteR, Hey Mister, Switches, and The Boxing Lesson, among others.

And the music tie-ins don’t stop there. Denny’s sponsored the Sasquatch Music festival ( in Washington over Memorial Day weekend. Headlining acts included REM, The Cure, and The Flaming Lips. The Denny’s AllNighter lounge was open 10 pm to 11 am for hungry late-night festival goers. The menu for the lounge included Prime Rib and Egg Breakfast Burritos, Veggie Breakfast Burritos, Pecan Roll French Toast, Barbecue Bacon Cheddar Burger, Loaded Cheese Fries, Chicken Ranch Melt Sandwich, Chocolate Chip and Carmel Latte Chunk Cookies, and a Prime Rib Cheese Steak Sandwich.

A cornerstone of the Late Night program rests on creating cravable, sharable, late-night-only fare. The new menu launched last month and includes these items:

  • Potachos—Freshly fried and seasoned kettle chips topped with crumbled sausage, bacon, bell pepper and onion mix, cheese sauce, and shredded Cheddar cheese.
  • Sweet Ride Nachos—Freshly fried flour tortilla chips tossed in cinnamon sugar, then topped with strawberry topping, raspberry sauce, seasonal fruit, hot fudge, caramel, white chocolate chips, and whipped cream.
  • Smokin’ Q Four Pack—Four mini burgers topped with sweet-and-tangy BBQ sauce, crispy onion rings, Cheddar cheese, and bacon. Served with a double portion of onion rings.
  • Cheesy Four Pack—Four mini burgers with American cheese, ketchup, mustard, grilled onions, and pickle chips. Served with a double portion of onion rings.

And just to further solidify the connection between edgy music and its food, Denny’s is developing a new Rock Star menu, set to launch in August. The menu items are being created in conjunction with actual rock stars. Bands such as All-American Rejects, Plain White T’s, Eagles of Death Metal, and Taking Back Sunday are in various stages of developing signature menu items with the Denny’s culinary team. The website keeps viewers up to date with behind-the-scenes pics of the rockers in the kitchen with Denny’s chefs, wearing their own personalized Denny’s chef coats.

Should you visit a Denny’s late at night, expect to see servers donning new uniforms (Black “Get Your Crave On” T-shirts) from 10 pm to 5 am, and hear alternative rock music during that same time period.

Some critics are skeptical about the success Denny’s will have with the program. USA Today noted in its 5/22/08 article, “The company could alienate core late-night patrons—such as factory shift workers—by pandering to youth,” says Linda Lipsky, a consultant. “These are folks who are spending real money instead of splitting one appetizer five ways.” (For the full article see

It’s an interesting program though, in that Denny’s is going after the consumer it wants while embracing and enhancing its existing reputation. It is meeting its customers where they are, altering its presentation to appeal to them, and connecting to other facets of their lives. This is a program to watch.


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