Tag Archives: diners


~ Worldwide Franchise ~

Oh the memories growing up with “Denny’s”. It was a common hangout during my high school and college years. Late night, sitting for hours, catching up with friends. Even after college, it was a great location for after dancing/clubbing meet ups and place to sober up before heading home. This iconic table service diner-style restaurant chain is certainly an image of the American heartland and definition of American type food. It is called “Denny’s” or “Denny’s Diner” and consists of over 1,600 restaurants across the United States, including Guam, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Curacao, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela, Honduras, Japan, New Zealand, Qatar, the Phillipines, and the United Arab Emirates. It is famous for being open 24 hours, 7 days a week, year round except where required by law to be closed. They are open on holidays and late nights. They place themselves close to interstates, freeways, bars, and service areas.

A humble history spurring from a donut shop, Denny’s was birthed by Harold Butler and Richard Jezak as “Danny’s Donuts” in Lakewood California in 1953. In 1956, Jezak left the business leaving it to Butler who changed the image and concept from a donut shop to a coffee shop renamed “Danny’s coffee shops” operating 24 hours a day. By 1959 they changed their name to “Denny’s Coffee Shops” as another chain went by the name of “Coffee Dan’s” in Los Angeles. By 1961 they simplified their name to “Denny’s”. They became a franchise in 1963 and most of the locations today are franchise owned. In 1977 they introduced their very popular Grand Slam breakfast. By 1981 there were over 1,000 restaurants throughout the United States. They also absorbed many of the Sambo restaurants. By 1994 they became the largest corporate sponsor of “Save the Children” charity. Operating non-stop, 24 hours, many locations were built without locks and some are said to have lost their keys. With headquarters in La Mirada, California until 1989, they relocated to Irvine, California, then Spartanburg, South Carolina becoming acquired by Trans World Corporation in 1987.

They became notorious for the “free birthday meals” to anyone on their birthdates, but this only survived from 1990-1993 but was cut off due to over-use and abuse. They offer a free Birthday Build-Your-Own-Slam on a customer’s proven and tracked birth date. By 1994 they changed their theme, outlook, and decoration with a lighter color scheme. They were reviewed by the October 2004 Dateline NBC news story called “Dirty Dining” criticizing Denny’s cleanliness, safety, and operations pulling the health inspection records of over 100 of its establishments for a 15 month span totaling all of the critical violations that could lead to adverse effects of a customer’s health compared to Applebee’s, Bob Evans, Chili’s, IHOP, Outback, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Friday’s, and Waffle House. They had the fewest violations averaging less than one violation per restaurant which they proudly boast is due to their successful model of their “principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points.”

However in 1934, they were damaged by their involvement in a series of discrimination lawsuits over food servers denying or providing inferior service to racial minorities from African Americans to Native Americans. That year, six black U.S. Secret Service agents visited a Denny’s in Annapolis, Maryland and were forced to wait an hour for service while their white companions were seated immediately. The 1994 class action lawsuit filed by black customers who were refused service, forced to wait longer, or pay more than white customers led to a $54.4 million settlement. In 1995 a African American customer in a Sacramento California location was told that he and his friends had to pay up front at the counter before ordering their meals, because, according to the waittress, said some black guys had been in earlier who made a scene and walked out without paying their bill, so the manager now wanted all blacks to pay up front. In 1997, six Asian American students from Syracuse University were discriminated upon late at night at a Denny’s having to wait more than a 1/2 hour as white patrons were served before them. After they complained to management, they were forced to leave by security, then afterwards a group of white men came out of Denny’s and attacked them, some beaten unconscious. Denny’s addressed this with racial sensitivity training programs for their employees and worked hard to improve public relations featuring African-Americans in their commercials. They made headway and was awarded in 2001 by Fortune Magazine to be the “Best Company for Minorities”. By 2006/2007 they topped Black Enterprise’s “Best 40 Companies for Diversity.” However in 2017, a Vancouver Denny’s made an Indigenous woman pay for her meal before it was served. The restaurant called the police on her after she left claiming she had a sharp-metal object in her pocket.

June of 2017, eight Denny’s in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colorado were immediately shut down because the franchise owner failed to pay close to $200,000 in back taxes as well as $30,000 in sales tax from the previous year. Many of these employees also filed that their accounts were not paid, received bounced checks and paychecks not arriving on time. The IRS came in and closed the locations, seizing property, and no advance notice given to its employees for the closures, leaving many without work or preparation for the losses. The franchise owner fled the state of Colorado.

Rated: 4 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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IHOP Southgate (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

IHOP – Southgate
~ 2290 Southgate Rd, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906 ~ (719) 635-0777 ~

Out of the Colorado Springs locations, this International House of Pancakes is one of the best. Who doesn’t enjoy IHOP? Its a pancake house worth the wait that you’ll often be greeted with upon entering as IHOP has that reputation. Wide variety of pancakes and all-day breakfast selections, fresh fruit, and delicous fried goods. 24 hours of availability, it will satiate your appetite. Delivery is also fast and efficient. Friendly staff and good food.

Rating: 4 out of 5 ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Hungry Jacks

Hungry Jack’s
* Australia * www.hungryjacks.com.au *

One who first looks at the “Hungry Jacks” logo might get confused because it awfully looks identical to the “Burger King” logo in the States. That’s because “Hungry Jacks” is part of the “Burger King” Franchise. It has been operating in Australia as “Hungry Jacks” since its first Perth store opened in April 1971. It rapidly took over since that date. Within 10 years, there was 26 stores in 3 states. They even took over the near-dead “Wendy’s” Hamburger chain stores in Victoria when they purchased them in 1986. So why not just call it “Burger King”? When Burger King expanded into Australia it found that “Burger King” as a name was already trademarked by a takeaway food shop in Adelaide. Therefore, the Burger King franchisee Jack Cowin, had to operate Burger King under a different name. Cowin selected “Hungry Jack” after one of Pillsbury’s US pancake mixture products. By 1990, “Competitive Foods” was permitted to franchise Hungry Jack’s as independent businesses. It was around this time that Burger King was trying to expand in Australia and wanted all stores under their “Burger King” logo. But because the “Hungry Jack” trademark had 30 years of heritage, it made more sense to keep it as a separate brand. It is also known as “HJ’s”, “Hungry’s”, or “Hungie’s” and stands as an exclusive Australian master fast food franchisee of Burger King wholly owned subsidiary of Competitive Foods Australia, privately held under Jack Cowin. In 1991 Burger King took Hungry Jack’s Pty Limited to court as it wasn’t meeting up to terms with its franchise agreement in opening a certain number of stores each year as promised. After the Australian trademark on the Burger King name lapsed in 1996, Burger King made a claim that Hungry Jacks violated its conditions for renewal and wanted to terminate the agreement and thereby in partnership with Royal Dutch Shell’s Australian division began opening its own stores in 1997. Jack fought back in 2001 claiming Burger King violated the conditions of the master francising agreement and the Supreme Court of New South Wales agreed with Cowin, awarding him with 46.9 million Australian dollars. This led to Burger King terminating its operations in the country and in July 2002 transferred its assets to its New Zealand franchise group – Trans Pacific Foods. They agreed in 2003 to re-name these locations to “Hungry Jack’s”. Today there are over 300 Hungry Jack stores throughout all states of Australia and is known as a well-established Australian brand. Most of the new stores have a 1950’s theme, with music played from this era occasionally through a 1950’s style jukebox with associated contemporary pictures and memorabilia as part of the decor. Many of the larger sit-down style restaurants have their seats and tables laid out in a 1950’s diner style. The only Burger King trademarks sold at Hungry Jack’s are the “Whopper” and the “TenderCrisp” sandwiches, all others go by generic names such as “hamburger”, “veggie burger”, or “grilled chicken burger”.

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Breakfast King (Denver, CO)

Breakfast King
* 1100 S. Santa Fe Dr./300 W. Mississippi Ave * Denver, Colorado 80223 * (303) 733-0795 * 24 Hours *

The Breakfast King looks like a typical old-fashioned chain diner, but its a unique infamous greasy spoon of Denver sub-culture. All American roadside diner, with classic 70’s style decor, bright orange booths, and a large menu of selections. The Westword calls it a “culinary time capsule” that still serves Coney Island hot dogs, chiliettes, and other classic foods. I second their observations. Located right next to I-25 its definitely a great stop off for weary travellers and a great place for breakfast after a night of clubbing. The service is fast, friendly, and the classical diner atmosphere you’d expect from the diner age. I had the Pancake sandwich with scrambled eggs inside … delicious. Visited 1/17/2010. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.


King Chef’s Diner (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

King Chef’s Diner
* 131 E. Bijou St., Colorado Springs, Colorado * 719.636.5010 * http://www.kingschefdiner.com/
My first experience at the King Chef’s was pretty good and tasty. While I only got the “enormous” pancake scramble sandwich, I found the place to be reasonably priced, with large portions, friendly staff, and good service. Its nice to have a diner right in the heart of Colorado Springs. I’m guessing its a new addition to the downtown scene, a bar/club stumble from the Springs’ main clubs, and having late night hours. They were brilliant in choosing this location. They are known for their green chili dishes. Apparently there is a smaller diner outlet (13 seat original purple castle) on Costilla in downtown that is also a popular place (but with little seating) that I’ve somehow missed over the last four years partying downtown. This larger Bijou Street location has plenty of seating any day of the week and are now open late on fridays and saturday nights. Apparently they are known for their burgers, burritos, melts, and chili dishes. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.


Twede’s Cafe & Twin Peaks (North Bend, Washington)

Twede’s Cafe, North Bend, Washington

Twede’s Cafe
* 137 W North Bend Way * North Bend, WA 98045 * 425-831-5511 * http://twedescafe.com/ * Hours: M-Th 6:30am-8:00pm ; F,Sa 6:30am-9:00pm ; Su 6:30am-7:00pm *
I’m not sure why I have an attraction to this place outside of the expected charm. I’m definitely a big fan of Twin Peaks, and the novelty of coming here once for that was enough, but there is an ‘odd’ charm about this place, even though its changed substantially since the filmings and had been burnt down as well. The food is pretty decent and you get enormous portions, though the menu is more expensive than it used to be. Everyone raves about the “Cherry Pie” – which is good, but not out-of-this-world good that everyone states, and certainly not worth the price you pay for it. I guess that whole ritual eating of the cherry pie is again part of the film novelty. The Cafe was originally called “Thompson’s Cafe” and was built in 1941 by Roy Thompson. The cafe lasted through World War II, the Depression, and the boom swings of the timber industry of Washington. The Cafe changed names to “Mar-T Cafe” as a pitstop for tourists and locals in the 1950’s. It was in 1990 that David Lynch chose it and the Snoqualmie Valley as a location for his series “Twin Peaks”. It was this series that immortalized his cafe and made the cherry pie famous as well as the “Damn fine cup o’ coffee!” saying in these parts. The cafe burnt down in 2000, but was rebuilt and remodeled becoming a significant part of “Historic downtown North Bend”. Besides the movie trivia, cherry pie, and coffee … the cafe is notorious for its large portions, home-cooked food, burgers, Big breakfasts, and home-style dinners. On this visit, I went for the Hot Cakes, sausage, and Hash Browns. Good stuff. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

Twin Peaks Cup O’ Coffee

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Ollie’s Trolley (Washington, DC)

Ollie’s Trolley

Ollie’s Trolley
* www.olliestrolleydc.com * 425 12th St NW
Washington, DC 20004 * (202) 347-6119

A little historic Burger and sandwich joint right off 12th near the National Mall is a burger shack/diner called “Ollie’s Trolley” which is a DC Landmark institution for the last 30 years. Family owned and operated, voted best for its burgers and seasoned fries as well as its shakes. Brightly lit and vivrant, not hard to miss. I had the Crab Cake burger which was fabulous, but wasn’t that impressed by the infamous seasoned fries. Cheap and affordable. Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5. Visited 2/21/09.

Crab Cake sandwich, fries, and coke


Denver Diner

Denver Diner
740 West Colfax, Denver, Colorado * 303.825.5443. Denverdiner.com.
A blast from the past with decor to match, along the old route 40, in downtown Denver – Denver Diner has some great dishes and offerings and gives the diner ambiance we all adore and they offer late night dining. It’s the hip place to be after clubbing during the weekends as the club zombies invade the joint. Everyone knows the place as its the hangout afterhours. Great breakfasts! Rating 4 stars out of 5. Visited 12/15/06. Multiple times in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Visited 7/18/08.


~ Cafe @ Netherworld (Denver, Colorado)

Cafe @ Netherworld * http://ra.ntw.net/netherworld.com/ * 1278 Pennsylvania St., Denver, CO 80203

Denver’s only full service Cyber Cafes … an incredible hotspot of local activity from dancing, art gallery, poetry readings, a full bar, a full service restaurant, pool hall, the best jukebox in Denver, free wireless, and a venue for many events. Definitely a must-visit and must-hangout place to go in Denver’s downtown. Conveniently located and home to a friendly and great staff, you won’t be disappointed with this great place. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

previous visits I tried out the internet service and the food …. Several WiFi networks to choose from, their home based network is the fastest in the joint – just get the username and password from the barista. The food – absolutely delicious …. previously I had the club with Cajun fries; The Nether burger; the Taco Salad … all spectacular! and delicious …. hit the spot. Iced chai with a shot of Baileys Irish Cream is my now usual drink of choice … makes the afternoon go by so nicely … not everyday you get a bar and a cafe and a restaurant all condensed into one … fabulous! Friendly staff and great service. A must …. (visited 6/16/06, 7/06, 8/06, 9/06, 10/12/06, 7/18/08, 2/14/09, 6/28/09) Recent visit, trying the artichoke dip … delicious! 7/18/08 Visit – the Appetizer sampler/combo – not bad. 6/28/09: Since this lovely establishment serves liquor as well as chai, and great food and free WiFi – it’s become a usual hangout for me to do chai n’ WiFi, meet up with friends, and do tarot readings … also become my favorite place for chai n’ WiFi fixes because I can add Bailey’s Irish Cream to my iced chai! Sweet! and the bartenders are fabulous with whipping that up.