The Denny's Restaurant chain did not exactly originate from Orange County, though pretty close. It's first location opened up in Lakewood, CA in 1953. Back then it was just a donut shop named "Danny's Donuts".
But being that it started here in Southern California, many Orange County residents got to experience Denny's long before the rest of the world did, and got to experience first hand the makings of perhaps the most iconic full-service restaurant chain in America.
Denny's did, however, have a connection to Orange County in that it's national headquarters was located in Irvine up until 1991, when it moved to Spartanburg, SC, after it was bought out by TW Services, Inc. TW Services, Inc. went through a series of name changes until it finally decided to call itself, "Denny's Corporation". I guess you can't keep a good Southern California phenomenon down.
I decided to create a blog post about Denny's after an OCThen reader named Ward Hollesen posted a comment (under a Knott's Berry Farm article of all places) explaining how he helped build some of the earliest Denny's restaurant, and explained how Harold Butler, the founder of Denny's, had once owned Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas...
My first wife and I moved from Clovis Ca (near Fresno) to Orange in 1960. Her uncle was one of the founders of Denny's Coffee shops. They were called Danny's at that time. The first one was at Florance and Lakewood in Downey. Her uncle was in charge of the building part and I worked as a framer for them. I helped build three of them. One in Gardena,One in Lancaster, and one in San Bernadino. We lived on Pepper street in Orange. Danny's at that time had a little donut shop in the right hand corner where you could stop at a window and order Donuts or go inside to the coffee shop area. We didn't have much money in those days so we would go to Knott's berry farm because it was free and we could picnic on the lawn. Then the hippies started camping out there so they built a fence and started charging to get in. During that time for corporate reasons they changed the name to Denny's My wife's uncle was not only corporate but he and his wife owned the franchise for the one in Downey and also the one on White Lane in Bakersfield. Harold Butler was the main man I guess he was the CEO he even owned Ceasers Palace in Las Vegas for 48 hours in a stock manipulation. Those were the good old days. Ward Hollesen firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ward Hollesen, at May 29, 2007 11:23 PM
There were several Denny's restaurants that my wife and I visited going back into the late 1980s when we started dating. We had our favorites, including the one in Costa Mesa, on the corner of Red Hill and Bristol, and more recently the one in Foothill Ranch, when we lived in Lake Forest.
Post a Comment at the end of this article, and tell us about your memories of Denny's Restaurant in Orange County.