Downtown Denny's slammed with free breakfast customers

All over the country today, people thronged Denny's restaurant locations to eat for free during a one-day promotion. KPCC's Brian Watt visited a location in Downtown Los Angeles.

Brian Watt: Super Bowl commercials work... especially when they advertise free food. During Sunday's big game, Denny's said it would serve up free Grand Slam Breakfasts two days later until two in the afternoon. When that hour arrived, 40 people were still waiting for a table at the Denny's on Figueroa Street just north of Staples Center in Downtown L.A.

Susie Vazquez and Nathaniel Oriana walked out looking happy... and full. They'd waited two hours.

Susie Vazquez: Once that pancake hits your tongue, it's worth it. Worth the wait.
Watt: Oh yeah?
Vazquez: Yeah.
Nathaniel Oriana: One hundred percent worth it. Especially for us that we love Denny's.

Watt: Oriana works as a cook in another restaurant.

Oriana: I mean, we could've paid for it anytime, everyday, but it was free. Might as well just eat it.

Watt: Ronald Shinn emerged rubbing his tummy. The disabled Vietnam War veteran said his meal choices were a free Grand Slam of pancakes, eggs, sausage and bacon... or whatever the Los Angeles Mission, about a mile away, was serving.

Shinn: You know, I just wanted to come up and have some place else to go. You know, new scenery. I didn't need it, but I could use it.

Watt: The owner of the Figueroa Denny's (and another one in the area) would only identify himself as Joey. He said the promotion attracted big crowds to both locations.

Joey: It's like a sign of the times. Even before six a.m., I mean, line already started out the door.

Watt: He handed out raincheck coupons good for another 10 days to customers who were waiting at 2:00. Amid the economic downturn, he hoped that the giveaway might convince some visitors to return as paying customers another day.