Denny’s All-Nighter here for the long haul?
With previous retail operations leaving the SAIT Begin Tower residence in consecutive years, it is fair to ask whether or not the Denny’s All-Nighter will last.
“It was disappointing and it sucks. We don’t want to lay people off,” said Denny’s All-Nighter assistant manager Carol Reyes.
Based on its opening weekend, staff became aware that the restaurant might not be as successful as hoped.
“Our first weekend that we were opened late until 2:30 [a.m.] was not very nice. A lot of these guys came in drunk and started bringing in alcohol and we are not licensed, so that is a big no-no,” said Reyes.
Yet, according to SAIT director of commercial services Wayne Gee, the Denny’s is doing well as it is used regularly by students and staff.
“Student response was that they wanted more choice. We have more than satisfied that with Denny’s. At any time of the day, you can get something,” said Gee.
“I think it is a positive move for SAIT. I think the students are certainly getting more choice and a wide variety. They have the latest and coolest concepts out there that are certainly unique to campuses anywhere in Canada,” he continued.
In response to the staff cuts, Gee said this is actually a relatively normal process for any new business.
“You will open with a lot of people and then of course you are going to cut back, but that is the normal course of business.”
Legal assistant student Jessica Watts said she enjoyed her visit to the Denny’s because it was within walking distance from class and she will likely return. Ditto for SAIT finance employee Phil Stewart, who said although the service was a little “rough” at the start, he hopes the Denny’s remains for an extended period of time.
It is the significant number of restaurant options now available on campus that has SAITSA vice-president external Matthew Armstrong concerned about how successful the Denny’s has been thus far.
“I don’t think it is doing particularly well. It’s not late night all night. It looks like it closes earlier on Fridays and Saturdays,” said Armstrong.
Reyes validated Armstrong’s observation explaining that they now close at either 12:30 a.m. or 1:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant also opens at 7:30 a.m. and not 6:30 a.m., again due to poor sales.
Armstrong said the major reason the Denny’s may not be flourishing is basic math.
SAIT has “more than doubled the number of food services available on campus, but the student population hasn’t doubled,” he explained.
A Sobeys, in the space now occupied by Denny’s, left virtually overnight two years ago after it failed to generate desired profits.
The Tower Starbucks moved to a new location inside the Johnson-Cobbe Energy Centre earlier this summer.
When asked what should replace Denny’s All-Nighter if it were to be abandoned, Armstrong called for comfortable student space on campus.
“Besides the Gateway and the ping-pong tables in the athletics basement, there isn’t really a lot of space for students to unwind and sit comfortably,” he said.
He also suggested that the vacated Starbucks area be transformed into a quiet space devoted to studying.
Gee said this likely won’t happen because this space was developed for commercial purposes.
When it comes to ensuring the success of Denny’s, Reyes said the key is to ensure students are aware that the famous breakfast joint actually exists.
“There are still a lot of people that don’t know about this place. Some of them don’t even know we are here. I went into the gym and people were like ‘really? It’s open?’”
The Denny’s All-Nighter is located in the Northeast corner of campus, in the SAIT Begin Tower.