Denny’s store-in-store fast-casual tests target surge in QSR breakfasts

Denny’s store-in-store fast-casual tests target surge in QSR breakfasts

SPARTANBURG S.C. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Mindful of the dramatic gains made in the morning daypart by such chains as McDonald’s [3], Jack in the Box [4] and Burger King [5], Denny’s also has launched a more direct assault with TV spots that attack fast-feeders’ “fake” breakfast meals. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

To add a convenience component to its product quality message, Denny’s is testing the fast-casual concept, called Denny’s Fresh Express, as a separate area within three Denny’s restaurants in the Dallas market. The Spartanburg-based family segment leader plans to expand the express format to other markets this year. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

The chain is not alone among family players eyeing such dual-brand store modifications. Denny’s Fresh Express is similar in concept to Square & Cafe, a fast-casual dining area being tested inside a Bakers Square [6] restaurant in Roseville, Minn. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Denny’s new “Don’t Fall for Fake” campaign includes TV spots for the general and Hispanic markets, digital efforts, public-relations programs, in-store merchandising, and guerrilla-marketing initiatives, all contrasting Denny’s breakfast menu with the meals served by quick-service chains. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

“We’re really defending our turf, and our differentiation is we have a real breakfast,” said Elizabeth Geer, director of advertising and merchandising for the 1,546-unit chain. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Actor Tony Sirico, who played Paulie Walnuts on “The Sopranos,” appears in the two TV spots for the general market. In “Phony Money” he pays for a quick-service breakfast with fake money. The spot, targeting consumers in the 25-40 age bracket, promotes Denny’s Complete Breakfast Trio for $5.99. Publicis Mid America in Dallas created the campaign. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

In “Line Up,” Sirico and an upset customer are at a police lineup looking over quick-service workers who are wearing themed costumes. When the customer picks out the employee who sold him a “fake” breakfast, Sirico assures him, “He can’t harm you no more.” —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

The ads end with the tag “Real Breakfast 24/7.” —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Thirty- and 15-second spots created for the Hispanic market by Cruz/Kravetz: IDEAS of Los Angeles are airing under the theme “De verdad verdad,” or “really real.” —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

The strategy behind the Hispanic-market campaign is the same as that for the general market, but the ads are more family-focused and built around human interaction and food, Geer said. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Digital components of the overall campaign include banner ads, mobile alerts, video ads and offer-based games. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

The new tag is designed to remind consumers that Denny’s, not quick-service chains, pioneered breakfast, though the fast feeders continue to steal customers from Denny’s, said Mark Chmiel, its senior vice president for brand and concept innovation. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Denny’s wants a share of the customers who eat quick-service breakfasts in those restaurants rather than order takeout, Chmiel said. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

NPD Foodworld 2007 reported that 1.7 billion quick-service customers eat their breakfasts in the restaurants. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Instead of fighting for share within the declining family-dining segment, Chmiel said, Denny’s decided to “go into a new playing field” by targeting quick-service customers. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Customer traffic at company-owned Denny’s units was down 4.1 percent last year, according to Denny’s Corp. Same-store sales at company units rose only 0.3 percent while sales at franchisedc units increased 1.7 percent. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Building positive traffic is essential for Denny’s to regain breakfast sales, said marketing strategist Al Ries of Roswell, Ga.-based Ries & Ries. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

“They have to deal with the problem, absolutely,” he said. “People have been skipping breakfast and going for coffee and doughnuts.” —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Denny’s is in a “very good position” to expand breakfast sales, he said, because “they do a very good job at breakfast.” —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

The chain also is in a position to re-energize the breakfast category, in the same way that Starbucks [7] helped to reverse declining sales in the coffee category when it was founded, Ries said. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

“It’s not the brand that matters, it’s the category,” he said. “What Denny’s has to do in a sense is not just promote Denny’s but promote the virtues of a good breakfast.” —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Although Denny’s campaign focuses on product quality, it also has sought to match fast-food chains’ to-go appeal. Denny’s president and chief executive Nelson Marchioli told analysts at a conference last month that the chain is testing a Denny’s Good to Go program in 38 units, guaranteeing breakfast in five minutes or less on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

The Denny’s Fresh Express concept debuted in October in Plano, Texas, and at two other units in Dallas in early December, Chmiel said. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

The Plano concept is a “restaurant in a restaurant,” built inside a Denny’s unit but with a separate entrance, dining area and distinctive outdoor signage, Chmiel said. The other two are kiosk operations integrated into the front of the restaurant. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

“If Denny’s has a real breakfast,” Chmiel said, “how can we make our brand more convenient? That’s the impetus behind Fresh Express.” —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Among the express menu’s offerings are specialty hand-held sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, including a new panini-grilled Grand Slamwich, which contains scrambled eggs, ham, cheese and sausage on bread flavored with butter and maple syrup. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

The average check is between $5 and $6, slightly less than the average check for a sit-down breakfast, Chmiel said, adding that the goal is to generate average checks of $5. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

The average customer comes in about three times a week, he said, and heavy users visit four or five times a week. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Denny’s plans to open a “significant number” of Fresh Express concepts this year to better compete with quick-service chains, Chmiel said. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

“After 54 years, the brand is in a mode of ‘let’s break away from competing in the no-growth family segment,’” he said. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.

Sarah E. Lockyer contributed to this story. —Family-dining restaurants long have fought among themselves for breakfast sales, but Denny’s is shifting the battleground by debuting a fast-casual store-within-a-store concept as part of an aggressive campaign to lure customers away from surging quick-service rivals.