Here's How Denny's Got Its Name

Denny's has been delivering fresh eggs, hot coffee, and crispy bacon to their customers for so long, their name has just about become synonymous with breakfast food. If someone suggests grabbing a meal at Denny's, you can pretty much already taste the Grand Slam breakfast. But would a Denny's diner by any other name taste so grand?

As it turns out, that was almost the case. When the popular breakfast chain was founded in Lakewood California by a pair of friends named Harold Butler and Richard Jezak, they didn't have Signature Slams, Burgers, or Classic Breakfast Favorites. When Butler and Jezak first opened their restaurant in 1953, it was a simple donut stand that went by the name Danny's Donuts, according to Insider. The small shop sold coffee and baked goods, and not much else. But, while the original menu might have been sparse, business was successful, and soon they were looking to expand their operations beyond the doughnut stand. Within just three short years, they had succeeded.

The chain didn't become known as Denny's until 1961

In 1956, Harold Butler and Richard Jezak's establishment had grown from a small donut shop into a six-store diner chain, selling breakfast, lunch, and dinner items 24 hours a day, according to Denny's. They also decided to change their name from Danny's Donuts to Danny's Coffee Shops, to better reflect their new, more expansive offerings. Their goal was "to serve the best cup of coffee, make the best donuts, give the best service, offer the best value and stay open 24 hours a day."

They continued to open up more locations in California throughout the 1950s. However, when they expanded into Los Angeles, they soon realized they would be competing against a longtime local chain called "Donut Dan's." So, in order to avoid any confusion between the local business and their burgeoning chain, they decided to make another minor adjustment to their name, changing the 'a' to 'e' to make it "Denny's Coffee Shops" in 1959. By 1961, they dropped the "Coffee Shops" from their name entirely and became simply "Denny's." The business only continued to expand under its new moniker, and today, there are more 1,700 Denny's locations worldwide.