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Denny’s plans test of fast casual concept

Denny’s Corp. plans to test a fast-casual model of its family-dining restaurant concept in Orange County, Calif.

Called Denny’s Café, the new fast-casual store will open Nov. 1 and have a smaller footprint than Denny’s traditional stores, approximately 3,000 square feet. It will seat 75 to 90 guests.

According to Denny’s, the fast-casual test unit also “will feature a more streamlined menu.” Guests would place their orders at a front counter instead of at tableside.

“The service model consists of placing your order with a cashier from a unique, wall-sized menu system featuring moving, digital food photography,” the company said.

Denny’s Café is an offshoot of the Spartanburg, S.C.-based, 1,600-unit chain’s Fresh Express concept, which debuted in a test last year. The Fresh Express model operated as a counter within Denny’s full-service restaurants, offering several portable, hand-held items that customers could purchase and take away.

It has since evolved into a kiosk operation for nontraditional locations such as colleges and universities.

Family dining chains Friendly’s and IHOP also are testing fast-casual-style concepts.

Contact Elissa Elan at [email protected].

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