The first Denny’s with a drive-thru in California has opened in Fresno County.
The newly built restaurant opened Monday and is in Kerman, about 15 miles west of Fresno.
So how does a drive-thru work at a restaurant that’s typically a sit-down place where people order everything from steak to bacon-loaded pancakes?
It’s a little bit different than your typical drive-thru.
Drivers still order through a speaker while looking at a menu board.
But the drive-thru doesn’t serve everything on the menu.
“We serve a limited menu where we’re able to get the food ready in 10 minutes — that’s the goal,” said franchise owner Sunita Sagar, who owns several Denny’s locations in the Fresno area.
That menu includes quite a few options: The Moons Over My Hammy, country fried steak and eggs, omelets, French toast, sandwiches, milkshakes, several fried appetizers and much of the kids menu.
Customers will pay and pick up their food at the same window.
If an order takes too long, customers will be instructed to pull off into designated parking spaces to wait for their food.
Drivers for delivery orders via apps such as DoorDash and Grubhub will also use the drive-thru to pick up food.
Both the dining room and the drive-thru are 24 hours.
Why Fresno County?
The new Denny’s is at 14235 W. Whitesbridge Ave., near the intersection of Highway 180 and Highway 145.
It’s not the first Denny’s with a drive-thru in the U.S. There are several in Texas.
Franchisees now have the option to add a drive-thru when building a new location, Sagar said.
“We just wanted to try something different at Denny’s,” she said. It helps the community that wants to travel, that wants something late night, that doesn’t feel like coming inside.”
If all goes well, she said she may open more Denny’s with drive-thrus in the area.
The addition of a drive-thru is part of the nationwide trend of restaurants adding more convenience for customers and making it easier for delivery drivers to pick up food quickly.
For example, almost all new Starbucks are built with drive-thrus — and locations without drive-thrus are being closed.
Last year, Chipotle opened its first Fresno restaurant with a drive-thru — dubbed a “Chipotlane” — at Herndon and Brawley avenues.