In November, popular chain Denny’s opened its first concept on a military base. Denny’s Fresh Express at Nellis Air Force Base, in Las Vegas, is a fast-casual version of a traditional Denny’s restaurant, according to Greg Powell, vice president of concept innovation for the brand. The location is operated in partnership with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), which operates retail and c-stores, gas stations, restaurants, theaters, vending and other businesses on military installations in all 50 states, five U.S. territories and more than 30 countries. The concept first made its debut on college campuses.
“You go to the counter, place your order and it’s made right there for you in a short ticket time,” Powell says. “The hallmark of the concept is that it serves breakfast all day. That’s our heritage. But this concept is much more focused on portability than a traditional Denny’s location. You can still get a Grand Slam Breakfast, but you can also get a Grand Slamwich, a sandwich version of the popular dish.” A Grand Slamwich features maple and spice-buttered bread, two scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, mayonnaise and American cheese. The menu also features burgers, burritos and salads.
In addition to the Denny’s Fresh Express concept, the brand has also launched Denny’s All-Nighter as an option for college campuses. Powell says that concept is virtually the same service model and menu, just branded differently for the student customer.
“This is a millennial audience and Denny’s All-Nighter is a Denny’s built for them,” Powell says. “It’s very much a departure from what you see at Denny’s on the street corner. That audience really knows Denny’s more as a late-night option. Now we have a location on campus that is not only there for breakfast and lunch but also late night. The Fresh Express model we’re using more in military and possibly airports in the future.”
Powell says now that the partnership with AAFES is in place, he hopes to open several more on bases in the U.S. in the next few years, and possibly even open locations at bases overseas. The concepts are also slated to open on several more college campuses in the fall. Powell says the brand already has relationships with the large contract companies to further growth of the concepts.