3.072013

brand experience brief: denny’s on fremont street

(Welcome to the newest brand experience brief.  In each of these short videos, I provide an audit and analysis of a new or interesting restaurant or retail concept.)

Denny’s is embracing the brand positioning “America’s Favorite Diner.”  Its new flagship location on Las Vegas’s Fremont Street reflects this new positioning, while including several Las Vegas touches including a working wedding chapel.  Check out this video briefing on the customer experience there:

Brand Experience Brief: Denny’s on Fremont Street (by Denise Lee Yohn) from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.

other brand experience briefs:

transcript:

Companies often use flagship stores to portray their brand visions.  Denny’s is using its location at Fremont Street in Las Vegas to do just that.

Fremont Street is where Las Vegas really started as a gambling mecca in the early 1900’s.  Now it’s a pedestrian mall most known for its nightly light show.   The location seems perfect for Denny’s since the area is undergoing a redevelopment and Denny’s is taking on a revitalization of its own.  Over the last couple of years, the company has engaged an aggressive expansion plan, revamped its menu, and embraced its brand positioning as “America’s Favorite Diner.”

This positioning is described by company executives as the inspiration behind the Fremont Street location and in some ways it does feel like a diner.

The décor is modern and retro at the same time, with mod furniture and mid-century inspired lighting.

The kitchen is open to the dining room in a typical diner set-up

And In the back hang pictures of Denny’s from the 50’s and there are booths and stools reminiscent of that time.

But there’s a lot about this Denny’s that seems less America’s Favorite Diner and more flashy Las Vegas.  Outside the restaurant is yellow and brightly lit

And there is a lot of outdoor seating in patios with funky ceiling fans and bright yellow furniture

inside cool yellow and white metal bars add visual texture to spaces and the walls feature bold graphics that are quite stylish

The menu design didn’t convey a diner feel but it really stood out – the covers are metal with a brushed finish and they feature witty quotes – this alone made the dining experience seem special.

The menu itself was also not diner focused – it featured more of what you’d expect at casual dining restaurant

Along with some fancy cocktails including a bacon-flavored martini

And unexpected food items like this spinach and mushroom flatbread which was quite tasty

One of the more unusual aspects of this location is a full bar that seemed really modern with its stainless steel counters and digital TV screens,

And the restaurant has a photo booth, which seems appropriate for Vegas

But what makes this restaurant so special is the wedding chapel where people can actually get hitched.

So this location seems to be combining both the vision of Denny’s as America’s Favorite Diner and the unique locale, which results in a somewhat disjointed experience but one that is nonetheless a lot of fun and definitely several steps above what you get at a regular Denny’s.

So I was quite surprised that the restaurant was practically empty when I was there.  I visited during the Consumer Electronics Show which brings over 150,000 people to Las Vegas and sells out most of the hotels in town – and while I understand Denny’s isn’t the first place you’d think of for a business junket, I expected to see at least a few CES attendees there – but there were only a handful of parties at the restaurant and the people seemed to be mostly locals.  I asked my server who was very friendly as were all the staff, and she indicated business has always been slow.

Perhaps this design is too much of a stretch for Denny’s and that is a danger for any company’s flagship location, but I for one congratulate the company for envisioning an exciting future for its brand and hope to see more elements of this restaurant incorporated into my local Denny’s.

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