This Beloved Restaurant Chain Has Lost 60% of Its Customers

Amanda McDonald
·2 min read

Sitdown restaurants have been suffering since last spring, and the beginning of 2021 is no different. Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Chili's, and more top chains had 30% fewer customers at the end of 2020 in comparison to the pre-pandemic end of 2019. But none has endured traffic declines as significant as Denny's.

For the week beginning Nov. 30, 2020, Denny's saw 52.7% less traffic in its restaurants in comparison to the year prior. As the holidays inched closer, those numbers continued to flounder. By the start of 2021, the chain faced a 59.8% decline in traffic, according to new data from Placer.ai. (Related: The Saddest Restaurant Closures In Your State.)

Of course, one reason for the drop is because of new indoor dining restrictions in a number of states. (Though the number of coronavirus cases is up in nearly every state, some states have refused to shut down restaurants.) Winter weather is also setting in, complicating outdoor dining prospects.

Denny's has 1,650 locations across all 49 states and Washington D.C. With two locations, the nation's capital has the fewest number of restaurants—along with Alaska and Vermont. Delaware is the only state without a Denny's, while Florida has 125, Texas has 199, and California has 376.

The chain is currently working on expanding two "virtual brands," which focus on burgers and melts; offering curbside pickup and new deals for 2021; and feeling confident that things are looking up, according to Nation's Restaurant News.

"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," CEO John Miller told the outlet in a statement.

To get all the latest restaurant news delivered right to your email inbox every day, sign up for our newsletter!