This Is What Denny’s Was Called When It Was First Opened

Updated: Nov. 03, 2022

The chain of diners began with a simple concept.

Denny’s is known for being a place where you can get a Grand Slam breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, juice, and coffee—24 hours a day.

But like many other fast food chains, Denny’s has evolved over the years, the Daily Meal reports. The chain that now calls itself “America’s diner” started modestly in 1953. Harold Butler and Richard Jezak opened a donut stand in Lakewood, California, and called it “Danny’s Donuts.” Three years later, they changed the name to Danny’s Coffee Shops and increased their hours. Butler’s motto? “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.” Find out the first locations of other fast-food chains.

By 1959, Butler and Jezak had established 20 restaurants and expanded the menu. But they weren’t the only entrepreneurs who knew that coffee and doughnuts were a winning combination. So to avoid confusion with another California-based chain called “Donut Dan’s,” Butler and Jezak changed chain’s name to Denny’s Coffee Shops. Don’t miss these other restaurants you didn’t know had changed their names.

Then two years later, Butler and Jezak simplified Denny’s Coffee Shops to the name that just stuck: Denny’s.

Turns out, making a distinction between Danny and Denny paid off. The chain celebrated its sixtieth anniversary in 2013 and now operates more than 1,700 restaurants.