PITTSTON — No, you didn’t wake up in the past.
Denny’s Pittston location near WalMart off Highway 315 opened in September, but the official grand opening celebration was held from Feb. 6 through Feb. 9. During this period, turkey sandwiches, country-fried steak and Denny’s iconic Grand Slam could be purchased by customers for half-off menu prices. According to franchisee Naymesh Patel, the event was worth the wait.
“Initially, when we opened, we hired 120 employees, all were new according to Denny’s standards,” Patel said. “If I did the grand opening on the initial week, I’m sure my employees wouldn’t have been ready for that. If there’s an opening and I disappoint the customers, there’s going to be a huge problem for me in the future.”
The Pittston location is Patel’s first Denny’s and his first 24-hour restaurant — his previous experience as a restaurateur comes via Ready Go Burrito in Bloomsburg, a venture he sold so he could focus on the American-style diner. Patel said he chose Pittston for a variety of reasons: its location off two major highways, the growing customer base and the nearby industrial park.
Patel also hopes to draw customers from every age demographic by utilizing Denny’s new “heritage” store concept, which aims to combine vintage diner appeal with a modern aesthetic.
“Nowadays, any restaurant, they are trying to get a new look,” Patel said. “They want a modernized design — they want to change the image that Denny’s is only for senior citizens. This kind of look can welcome any customer age-wise.”
Retired Pittston residents Ed and Linda O’Dell said the Pittston Denny’s welcomes them about “once a month.” They didn’t take advantage of the grand opening savings — Ed ordered his usual prime rib Philadelphia melt while Linda opted for chicken quesadillas and French fries — but the new look made an impression on the couple.
“I like it; it’s more modern,” Linda said. “I like the openness of it.”
If grand opening savings, a new look and the familiar Denny’s menu weren’t enough to draw patrons to Patel’s new venture, the Bloomsburg businessman hopes the waterfall at the front of the restaurant is. According to Patel, Pittston Denny’s is the first in the United States to house the indoor water feature.
Whether the restaurant becomes a tourist destination for diner aficionados remains to be seen. For now, Patel is working to make his investment a meal destination for residents and visitors of Pittston, during his belated grand opening and into the future.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @GeneAxtonTL