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SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Late last night Denny's Corporation (NASDAQ: DENN) responded to a fracas that has developed over the politically charged uttering of a Florida franchise owner of 40 Denny's restaurants. After the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, the West Palm Beach-based owner announced to the press how wrong ObamaCare is and how he will offset its cost by charging customers five percent more.
"I've got to pass on the cost to the customer," he told the Huffington Post.
Last night Denny's Corp CEO John Miller, the franchisor and operator of 1,687 Denny's restaurants worldwide, declared to the public that a single franchise owner in Florida does not speak for the brand, or even other franchise owners.
"While we respect the decision of an independent business owner to speak out on this or other topics and express their personal views, his statements do not capture the respect by Denny's, the Denny's Franchisee Association or our franchise community at large for our hardworking employees or for our valued customers," declared Miller.
The problem is that the consumer may hear the murmurings of the Florida-based franchise owner and be side-tracked. They can easily think that the Denny's brand, known for its value-priced meals, is increasing prices throughout its system. The politically charged coverage also focuses consumers to think in terms of the brand fighting health care and contemplating the health of their own servers. To make matters worse, the Florida owner suggested that customers reduce their tips so as to cover the surcharge. That ensures every consumer that patronizes the owner's restaurants takes notice of health care as it affects the establishment's employees. In short, the franchise owner has brought in significant complications to the entire Denny's brand as the story has gathered national coverage and political steam.
The spokesperson for the brand, CEO John Miller, sets the record straight with America's consumers. "Unfortunately, the comments of this franchisee, who represents less than one percent of our system and who owns restaurants in other concepts, has been portrayed as reflective of the entire Denny's Brand. I am confident his perspective is not shared by the company or hundreds of franchisees/small business owners who make up the majority of the Denny's community," declares Denny's CEO. "Specifically, his comments suggesting that guests might reduce the customary tip provided to their server as an offset to his proposed surcharge are inconsistent with our values and approach to business throughout our Brand. Our restaurant team members work tirelessly day in and day out to create a pleasant dining experience for our guests and we believe they should be rewarded for providing the good service we are known for rather than penalized due to legislation. He has since revised his earlier position."
Denny's CEO reassures the public that the chain will comply with the new health care law. "Collectively we will continue to monitor the developments of the Affordable Care Act and any other legislation that may impact our team members, franchisees, employees and guests and will do the right thing as individuals, as a company and as a brand."