Earlier this year, New York’s pancake lovers rejoiced as the first Denny’s, the restaurant famous for its delicious, quick, and affordable diner food options, finally opened in Manhattan’s Financial District.
But if you go to the restaurant expecting the usual Denny’s dining experience — the kind you might get pulling off the road after a long road trip looking to fuel up on eggs and sausage — you’re in for a surprise.
While the tasty food is certainly still available (and at Denny’s signature affordable prices), Manhattan’s Denny’s is a more upscale version of the franchise, complete with a custom craft cocktail menu, swankier decor, and Dom Perignon champagne.
Since it’s quite possibly the most unique Denny’s in the world, we had to check it out for ourselves.
The Denny's is located at the corner of Nassau and Spruce Streets in Manhattan's Financial District, in a historical landmark building built by the American Tract Society in 1895. Prior to Denny's moving in, the space was a Taco Bell before sitting empty for 12 years. Franchisee Rahul Marwah searched for a location and designed the space for three years before opening.
When Marwah, whose family has been working with Denny's as franchisees for 25 years, heard that Manhattan had no Denny's, he realised what great potential such a location could have. He also knew that if it was in New York City, it needed to be something special.
Inside, the space is certainly not your average suburban Denny's. Marwah says he wanted the space to 'look like it had been there forever,' he told Business Insider. It features hardwood floors, brick walls, leather banquets, and pressed copper ceilings. He says that at first, corporate Denny's was a little hesitant, but now, they treat the space as one of their flagship restaurants.
The decorations are an homage to the history of New York City and of the Financial District. Large murals depict many city scenes, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the on-ramp for which is very close to the restaurant.
Marwah says that they licensed the images, many of which specific to the neighbourhood and even the intersection, directly from the City Archives.
This Denny's also comes complete with a full cocktail bar, one of the only Denny's outside of Las Vegas which offers such drinks. Marwah explains that, when talking to the community, one of the first things they asked about was whether they would be able to get a good cocktail in the new restaurant.
Here, head bartender Terrence Laboy makes a Lower Manhattan, a craft cocktail with whiskey, vermouth, and orange peel. To his right is a Coney Collins, another popular drink with vodka, blackberries, lemon, and mint.
The bar also has craft beer, Prosecco, and Manhattan Cream Soda, a mixed drink with bourbon, vermouth, maple, and vanilla, on tap. Marwah worked with the head of the bar program at the chic Soho House to create a bespoke drink menu just for this Denny's location.
One of the items on the menu that garnered the biggest buzz for the restaurant was the 'Grand Cru Slam,' two portions of Denny's famous Grand Slam meal, plus a 2003 bottle of Dom Perignon champagne, and of course, a high-five from the bartender.
Marwah says it started as a joke. 'We wanted to have a little fun with it,' he says. For their opening, they only had one bottle of champagne on hand, just in case someone took them up on the offer. By the end of the week, they had been through a whole case. To this day, the restaurant has sold eight Grand Cru Slams, at $300 a pop.
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