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Denny’s soon to join Flying J in Waddy

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Merger with Pilot brings venerable eatery to Shelby

By Steve Doyle

In the next few months, you can get your grand slam breakfasts in Shelby County.
Denny’s, the nation’s largest restaurant chain and known for 24-hour breakfasts and early bird specials, will open its first restaurant in Shelby County at the Flying J Travel Plaza in Waddy.
Signs have been up along Interstate 64, touting the arrival, but the booths won’t be ready for you to take a seat until sometime in March.
Employees of the travel plaza said Thursday that the former buffet restaurant had closed and that demolition had begun to remodel the facility into the familiar Denny’s floor plan.
The switch to Denny’s at the Flying J came about because of a bigger switch that occurred last year, when the company merged with Pilot Travel Centers.
“When Pilot brought us out, that’s why we’re changing the restaurant,” said an employee at the travel center who declined to provide her full name. “The restaurant closed on Tuesday, and the new one should be open sometime in March.”
Laura Grimes, who said she is a shift leader at the restaurant, declined further comment other than to say she expects the restaurant to be adding employees. She said she has “no idea about how many.”
Attempts to contact the manager of the store were unsuccessful, and phone messages left for corporate officials at Pilot/Flying J had not been returned by press time.
The merger of Pilot and Flying J created a network of 550 interstate travel centers and plazas in 43 states and Canada – including one in Simpsonville – and employs 20,000. Its Web site says it is one of the top 10 privately held companies in the U.S.
Flying J, which is on the north side of I-64, had been under greater competition recently when Loves opened a competing plaza in an abandoned facility on the south side. Loves includes a McDonald’s.
Denny’s, which was founded in 1953, has 1,546 restaurants and 21,000 employees.