In a blow to students and night owls, the CBD’s most regularly open restaurant now closes before midnight. Reporting by Denny correspondent Sam Brooks.
Picture this: you’re out late on a Saturday night in Auckland’s thriving CBD (TBC). You danced along the overpass, strolled down Karangahape Road, or maybe somewhere cooler in between. You really want a bite to eat, but you’re not in the mood to queue at McDonald’s or Kebabs on Queen. You want pancakes at 3 a.m., you want to sit down, you might even want a coke float. Then you go to the mainstay of CBD: Denny’s.
And for the first time in your memory, it’s closed. There is a sign on the door that says ‘Denny’s Auckland CBD Restaurant will now be open from 7am to 11pm due to current understaffing. This stores [sic] will no longer operate 24/7 until further notice. You can still get your fix of Denny’s and all your favorites with our new revised hours.”
It’s true. CBD’s one ever-changing constant, the glowing stronghold in misty darkness, is no longer open 24 hours a day.And it hasn’t been long.
On February 27, Denny’s posted an identical message on its Facebook page, informing “friends and family” that the Auckland CBD and Manukau restaurants would only be operating from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. due to a staff shortage, an expression of concern. familiar hospitality in the Covid era. Denny’s Christchurch suffered the same fate in early April. For a time, there was no 24-hour Denny’s in the whole country. New Lynn? No. Porirua? Do not even think about it.
Almost a year ago I tried to spend a full 24 hours in Denny’s CBD in Auckland, but was thwarted after nine hours. But even then, it was clear to me that Denny’s was almost empty during the day, which makes the decision to close at 11 p.m. particularly disconcerting.
I observed, apart from this failed stunt, the restaurant full of people – the children of the theater after a closing party, the high school students after the prom, the students out late on a Wednesday evening, the adults who should know better – entirely at times when the pm clicks in the morning. It comes to life in these hours and proves its worth.
Denny’s is an institution. It’s a level above McDonald’s, where service has been reduced to ordering from a screen. It’s the only place where you can have an experience close to a restaurant at any time of the day. It’s also the only place where it’s socially acceptable for messy kids and adults to dine next to each other, all bound together by the social contract that it’s slightly embarrassing to be at Denny’s.
An anonymous member of staff at The Spinoff called the food “underrated”, when I would call it “correctly rated”. It’s unlikely to be the best meal you’ve had, but it’s also unlikely to cause lasting physical harm, which is the best you can hope for from a 24-hour place. you truncate those hours to just 4pm, it’s just another restaurant with decent food.
Staffing issues are common across the country and in all industries, so I’m glad Denny’s workers aren’t forced to work nights when they’re short-staffed. But Ifa Denny’s isn’t open 24 hours, it’s not really a Denny’s, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a lairNope‘s.
There is a silver lining to this tragic story. As of this writing, one Denny’s in the country is still open 24 hours a day. After announcing its own shortened hours, the Manukau Denny’s went back to its normal opening hours on April 11. So if you want your coke float fix, you better take your preferred mode of transport and head to South Auckland. Otherwise, no luck between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The very first food newsletter from The Spinoff is here. Written by Charlotte Muru-Lanning and produced in partnership with Boring Oat Milk, The Boil Up is your weekly catch-up on what’s happening in our diverse and ever-changing culinary landscape, spanning the personal, the political and the good old delicious. Subscribe to The Boil Up here.