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Every so often, an event comes around that is so monumental it causes droves of people who generally have the means to afford mid-grade, mass-produced food to stop whatever it is they’re doing and go wait in line to get that same food for free. Participating in one of these events is the exact opposite of saying, “I wouldn’t eat that if you paid me.” In fact, you’re essentially saying, “I will eat that, but only because it’s free.”*
Such is Denny’s: the nationalized, local diner whose main advantage over your neighborhood greasy spoon is not the unique food or the charming waitstaff, but the reliably forgettable atmosphere and consistently-shaped entrees. But in a town known for being affluent food snobs, what kind of people would show up for such a pedestrian meal? Even a free one? What if I told you no one in the restaurant had any idea at all what region of the state their eggs and sausage came from?
That’s a really long way of saying, I’m currently onsite at the Denny’s 4th and Mission location as of roughly 10:30am, along with sometimes-contributor to UptownAlmanac (which is like “the new Craigslist”, I hear) Jim Chaney. Keep furiously refreshing this page (or go to the page in the first place, you RSS jerks) to be the first to know what’s happening at what will surely be the talk of the water cooler when everyone in the office wishes they were eating 2 eggs, 2 sausages, 2 bacon strips, and 2 pancakes for lunch.
Here we go!
11:15 AM: Right off the bat Jim wants to make sure I note that we took the recession bus. (The 14L Hopon)
A very ominous man on the bus warned us about the lines. 10 minutes later and he’s somehow talked his way in to practically the front of the line.
There’s a cop guarding the bacon. And we’re taking pictures of other people blogging this.
11:32 AM: Even the crazy people are saying that line is too long even if it IS free. So we’re debating heading to the Fisherman’s Wharf location.
At this point we just look like jerks with expensive cellphones. So we’re heading to catch the 30 to the wharf.
11:40 AM: Jim took this picture of the Meta-blogging and emailed it to me because we live in The Future. We discuss blogging on the 30 bus and somewhere in Chinatown I think we realized how the sausage was made.
Jim: “if there’s a line at this one, we’re just going to In-N-Out.”
And this from a real unemployed guy.
11:45 AM: Jim just realized he forgot to check in on foursquare at the last Denny’s. This is disappointing because now his friends won’t know he’s out and about doing things.
So far we’ve spent an hour an a half, between Muni and us standing around deciding what to do. Could we have had our Grand Slams by now if we had just been earlier. Slight feeling of remorse.
12:02 PM: We overshot our stop on the 30 and now we’re taking the scenic route to Denny’s.
We’re still debating what kinds of people would come to the wharf location. There are bums in the neighborhood, but they’re like rich bums. More like “acts” really.
Almost got lost finding the Denny’s, but it’s in the basement of a Holiday Inn. This is very promising.
12:05 PM: We made it! $Free.99!! =)
12:13 PM: Goodby (Denny’s ad agency) is recording us for a commercial or something. Interactive mini-site with video probably.
The hostess asked if we were here for “regular” or “free” breakfast. There are two sections and you can definitely tell the difference. The free section is very colorful.
12:20 PM: Food was speedy! Less than 15 minutes from getting in line to having food in front of me.
Although they lied about the “eggs your way” thing. Everyone gets scrambled.
Jim: ” this is a generous amount of syrup. Wait- not quite.”
Waitress wants us to join Denny’s rewards program and win 52 free Grand Slams.
Jim thinks people could get down here on their lunch break and not miss work.
12:41 PM: Complaints include “abysmally small water glasses” and lackluster sausages. Not bad.
Leaving, the sun is out now. I can honestly say my day got brighter after a free breakfast at Denny’s. I wrote that outside of the restaurant though, so Goodby, please call me to discuss licensing your client’s new slogan.
*Ed note: SF Weekly today has a piece headlined “Denny’s Complimentary Grand Slam Only ‘Free’ To Those Who Can’t Do Math.” We look forward to future exposes on those dummies who wait in line at soup kitchens, and what a math-impaired moron I am for waiting 3 hours for my food stamp caseworker appointment. EB