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Denny’s preliminary domestic same-store sales results for the COVID-19 pandemic year were down 31%.

Denny’s tests two virtual brands with rollout plans

Family-dining brand says the virtual brands focus on burgers and melts

Denny’s Corp., the family-dining brand, is testing two virtual brands that it plans to expand in 2021 and they “focus on burgers and melts,” the company said Monday.

“Both concepts have shown promising results in testing and each is expected to be launched in the first half of fiscal 2021 in over half of Denny’s domestic restaurants,” the company said in a press release before its presentation at the 23rd annual ICR Conference 2021, which was held virtually.

The Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny’s also released preliminary domestic same-store sales results for the COVID-19 pandemic year, saying they were down 31%, having reached a nadir of down 57% in the second quarter. In the fiscal fourth quarter ended Dec. 30, preliminary domestic same store sales were down 41%, the company said.

Amid pandemic dining restrictions, Denny’s operators have been testing the two new virtual offerings, said John Miller, Denny’s CEO, in a statement.

“With increasing distribution of vaccines, newly passed fiscal stimulus that should benefit our franchisees and the ongoing resolve of our operators, I am confident that Denny’s is well-positioned to continue navigating through the pandemic in an effective manner while preparing for future growth,” Miller said.

Miller said he continued “to be impressed with how resilient and steadfast our teams are in their commitment to serving our guests. Denny’s operators have maintained a dedicated focus on health and safety protocols while embracing innovative solutions such as curbside ordering, outdoor dining where permitted and testing two new virtual brands in an environment challenged by mandated restrictions.”

As of Dec. 30, Denny’s had 1,650 units. The company closed three units during the year. Franchisees and licensees closed 70 and opened 20.

The recent surge in coronavirus cases and restrictions were being considered in guidance, which led Denny’s to adjust earnings for 2020 of between $24 million and $26 million.

Denny’s expects to release financial and operating results for its fourth quarter after the market closes on Feb. 16.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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