Denny’s head-scratching new menu item came out of left field. But it might just be a huge hit

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Restaurante_dennys_fachada.jpg, Zijun93, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Denny’s has long been known for offering one of the better breakfasts of any national chain.

Now in an attempt to branch out and stay relevant in the ever-competitive restaurant industry Denny’s has pulled a head-scratching new menu item out of left field.

But it might just be a huge hit.

Denny’s new offering is quite the curveball

In an attempt to capitalize on off-site dining, Denny’s Corporation is expanding its Mexican food-inspired virtual brand.

Company CEO Kelli Valade said the parent company of Denny’s and Keke’s Breakfast Café are adding Banda Burrito to over 200 locations in California.

The expansion will take place “over the next couple of months.”

Almost 100 Denny’s locations offered the brand during the first quarter, according to information from a slideshow that Denny’s published recently.

Valade said that for now, the Banda Burrito menu “will be in California because we saw the unique opportunity to offer this in ways to offset the impact of AB 1228 and just provide this new option for guests and franchisees.”

“When we offered it to our franchisees in California, operators were quick to sign up, given the perfect timing and the fit of the Banda offerings,” she added.

Denny’s says that it wants to bring the Banda Burrito restaurant to other parts of the country after it finishes launching the virtual brand in California.

According to Valade, that will likely occur in the final quarter of 2024.

Her remarks were made during Oppenheimer’s Annual Consumer Growth and E-Commerce Conference, and were similar to ones she already made in late April during Denny’s first-quarter earnings call.

The new strategy is different from the approach that other companies have been taking for their own virtual brands.

For example, Brinker International said it will “de-emphasize” its online-only brands.

The company is known for the Chili’s and Maggiano’s Little Italy chains, and has slowed down on Maggiano’s Italian Classics, and put less focus on It’s Just Wings.

However, Brinker did add the virtual-only wings offerings to some physical locations of Chili’s.

This isn’t Denny’s first rodeo

Banda Burrito is not the first virtual brand that Denny’s Corporation has launched.

The Burger Den and The Meltdown both debuted three years ago during the pandemic as two virtual brands under Denny’s corporate umbrella.

In April, Valade said, “Off-premise channels continue to be a strategic opportunity for us to grow new guests and transactions through our unique virtual brands and through Denny’s on demand.”

She also noted that this business model is quite popular among Gen Z’ers and Millennials, who often prefer to order in rather than eat out in person.

As of late March, Denny’s reported that there were over 1,500 total physical locations in the United States. 

Only time will tell whether or not the company’s new Banda Burrito virtual brand takes off.

US Political Daily will keep you updated on any developments to this ongoing story.