Mahogany woodwork, tufted leather upholstery, prosecco on tap—this isn’t anything like the other 1,700 Denny’s around the U.S. But it’s the first outpost of “America’s Diner” to open in New York City, and it’s located in Manhattan’s Financial District—an area with rapid residential growth and an influx of single professionals and families in the last few years. To convert these residents to customers, franchisee Rahul Marwah decided it would take more than skillet breakfasts served in vinyl booths.
A scarcity of value-priced eateries, especially any open after 7 p.m. and on weekends, attracted Marwah to the downtown neighborhood. He envisioned a place where parents and kids could go for meals and 20-somethings could grab a cocktail or late-night bite. Most of the chain’s signatures are on the menu, but “the space looks completely different from the average Denny’s,” says Marwah. “It’s designed to attract a more sophisticated crowd and fit with the historical character of the neighborhood.” Corporate was very supportive of the plan, he adds.
Marwah knew he also wanted a hip bar, so he hired a mixologist to create a craft-cocktail program. This Denny’s serves made-from-scratch drinks and a batch cocktail on tap. Some exclusive-to-New York “bakes” were developed for the menu: Italian Meatball Lasagna, Philly Cheesesteak and Chicken and Rice ($11.99 each).
“This space cost about twice as much to build out, but the population density offers the potential for extremely high volume,” says Marwah.
Location: New York City
Footprint: 5,000 square feet
Hours of operation: 5 a.m. to midnight
Key features: Distressed wood floors, brick walls,
industrial light fixtures and chairs, leather upholstery, photos of New York landmarks