This weeks’ Restaurant Inspection Redemption took us to a place where many of us have ended after a night of booze, shame, and regret: Denny’s.
Denny’s landed itself in the May 8th restaurant inspection report for a poor inspection on 4/20, so we can safely assume all parties involved were high as hell. This non-compliant inspection is a repeat violation, supporting the inspector’s complaint that the person in charge does not have adequate food safety management. Employees preparing food weren’t wearing beard covers, food was being stored directly on the floor instead of off the ground, equipment had filth and food residue built up over time, and there was a gap in the backdoor that does not prevent a raccoon from just walking in and ordering a Grand Slam. The more disturbing violations included a pest issue, which said the bananas had small, winged insects “too numerous to count”; the report states that the facility is being treated for its bug issue. Also, insecticide was being stored next to the pancake mix, leading to a potential hazardous situation. Some equipment had damaged hoses and Denny’s was cited for them in 2014, 2015, and 2016 showing that Denny’s was not interested in becoming a compliant facility.
But, it’s Denny’s. What do you expect? You’re not going in there for the ambiance. You’re not going in there for the culinary masterpiece they call “moons over my hammy”. In fact, you don’t know why you are there or how you even got there…it just happened.
We made the conscious decision to go Denny’s on Tuesday night for this segment. Henry the Intern and family joined the Brontosaurus crew to bravely look in the face of death and laugh. On the way in, we noticed a large hole that a child’s food could easily fall into in the parking lot. Otherwise, the exterior seemed to be in order aside from the fact that it is one of the worst-planned parking lots in Lancaster. We were greeted upon entrance and seated right away at a large table. The restaurant was not very busy. Our waitress was very polite and friendly. She was attentive and accommodating.
Our children ate for free because it was a Tuesday night, which was awesome. Restaurants always overcharge for a kid’s entrée of macaroni and cheese that is clearly just Kraft out of a box. Henry the intern ordered a double cheeseburger, I ordered breakfast so I could try those insecticide-laced pancakes, and we saved the worst horror of all for Henry the intern’s wife—she had a banana split. We did this so we could check for those small, winged insects. Disappointingly, her sundae was bug-free. She was really looking forward to the protein. Henry was pleasantly surprised that he enjoyed his burger. My over-easy eggs were well cooked and contained no beard hairs, which was a bonus. The girls enjoyed their free Kraft mac ‘n cheese. The only issue I had personally was that my silverware was not entirely clean. This is not an uncommon experience at many restaurants, though it is a frequent Denny’s occurrence.
I’ve had a lot of bad experiences at that Denny’s. A lot. A waitress there once told me her entire childbirth story before I had the chance to order a beverage. I’ve seen drug deals happen there near the crane machine in the lobby. I’ve vomited in that Denny’s more a few times. I’ve definitely been drunk there and I’ve surely sobered up there as well. However, we can’t say this was a bad experience. The service was good, the food was good, the restaurant looked clean-ish (for a Denny’s), the manager came out to make sure we had a good experience, and we enjoyed ourselves.
We redeem Denny’s, with the warning that it’s still a Denny’s. Tune in to next week’s POLcast to hear more about our visit to the Denny’s on Columbia Avenue.