November 7, 2023


Denny's Logo
Leading franchisees were recognized for business performance, operational leadership, staff inspiration and training, marketing, technical developments and community philanthropy.

Spartanburg, SC, Nov. 07, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Denny’s (NASDAQ: DENN) is proud to announce the exceptional recipients of the prestigious 2023 Denny’s Franchisee Awards. The accolades, presented at the 2023 Denny's Franchisee Association Annual Convention and Trade Show in Kansas City, MO, celebrate the commitment and extraordinary achievements of the company’s dedicated franchisees.

Kelli Valade, CEO and President of Denny's, expressed her admiration for the winners, stating, “These awards are a celebration of excellence in the Denny's family, and we couldn't be prouder of our outstanding franchisees. They embody our commitment to the quality and hospitality we have for our guests, setting a remarkable standard for our brand.”

Sam Wilensky, franchisee, and Chairman of the Denny's Franchise Association Board of Directors (DFA), added, “The franchisees that were recognized are true champions of the Denny's brand. Their unwavering dedication to service and community is nothing short of inspiring. It's a privilege to recognize their accomplishments and contributions.”

The 2023 Denny’s Franchisee Award winners and their respective categories are as follows:

DFA Chairman Award – Carl Ferland
As a high schooler in 1973, Carl Ferland started his relationship with Denny’s as a dishwasher in Fort Lauderdale, FL. For over 21 years, he rose through the leadership ranks with the Brand. He became a franchisee in 1994 and for the following 20 years, grew his portfolio to 48 restaurants across six states. Today, Carl owns one restaurant in Orlando, FL and has the goal of running the best restaurant within the brand before he fully retires. His exemplary service and long-time commitment across 50 years have left an indelible mark on the brand.

CEO Ambassador Award – Dawn Lafreeda
Dawn Lafreeda, the powerhouse behind Den-Tex Central Restaurants, is not only a testament to female empowerment in the family dining sector but also an exemplary ambassador for the Denny's brand. Beginning her journey as a hostess at age 16, Dawn's unyielding spirit saw her rise to become a franchisee by 23, and she now commands a remarkable 75 Denny's restaurants. Beyond her formidable business success, Dawn is deeply committed to community and philanthropy. The essence of her resilience, dedication, and impactful contributions is poignantly chronicled in the award-winning documentary “Show Her the Money”.

Developer of the Year Award – Bistro Americano Corporation
The Developer of the Year Award went to Bistro Americano Corporation, which operates 15 Denny's restaurants in the Philippines and opened five new locations in 2023. Jean-Paul Manuud, President and COO, has been instrumental in Bistro’s growth since March of 2016. What this team has managed to do in the Philippines is truly amazing and they clearly have a passion for the Denny's brand, and they're not finished yet.

Philanthropy Award – Tina & Glenn Beattie
Tina and Glenn Beattie are distinguished recipients of the inaugural Philanthropy Award for their unwavering support of Cookies for Kids' Cancer. With heartfelt dedication, they've not only championed awareness but have also amassed over $1.3M since 2011. This significant contribution has catalyzed 12 pivotal childhood cancer research projects. Their remarkable impact on this crucial cause is deeply admirable.

People Award – David Beshay
David Beshay, an esteemed figure in the hospitality industry, has been recognized with the People Award for his dedication to fostering, supporting, and growing talent. Overseeing 23 Denny’s Restaurants in multiple states, David stands out for his impactful business philosophy rooted in the Service Profit Chain. His belief in empowering teams has driven exceptional guest experiences and business growth. Today, we celebrate David not just for his professional and community achievements but for his unwavering commitment to his team's holistic growth.

Marketing Award – Dencan
Dencan opened their first Denny’s in 1992 and currently operates 57 restaurants. They also have the distinction of being the Denny’s development agent for all of Canada. This exceptional franchise group was recognized for their strong marketing efforts across paid, owned and earned channels, which have driven sales and guest traffic by substantial margins. They are marketing thought leaders who stay on the cutting edge of new marketing opportunities. 

Technology Champion – Frank Rivera
Frank Rivera operates three Denny’s restaurants and serves as Chairman of the Operations Brand Advisory Committee. Frank’s knowledge and leadership in valuable transformational technology helps Denny’s innovate with new solutions. He consistently partners with Operations and IT to maximize the impact of technology that benefits operations, employees, and guests. 

Small Franchisee Award – Rey Hernandez
Rey Hernandez operates three restaurants in California and first became a franchisee in 2015. He leverages previous experiences working on the food services team of the UCLA hospital system to bring the same level of care and insight to his restaurant operations. Celebrated as a humble, generous, and kind individual, Rey focuses on teaching, training, and coaching his team to drive success. Rey is also making Denny’s ownership a true family operation as he brings his sons into the business.

Medium Franchise Award – Medhat Bechay
Medhat Bechay became a franchisee in 1994. Today he operates 11 restaurants in California and Hawaii and serves on the DFA Board of Directors as well as the Marketing Brand Advisory Committee. Medhat is respected as one of the most knowledgeable franchisees on systems and standards. If asked what the current recipes are for any given menu item, he would probably know the answer off the top of his head. Medhat has turned his passion for Denny’s into a family affair, working alongside his three sons and his wife.

Large Franchisee Award – Garren Grieve
In 2016, Garren Grieve began his commendable journey with Denny's, starting with a single establishment. Within just seven years, his leadership and vision have grown his portfolio to 28 thriving restaurants across California. A hallmark of innovation and operational prowess, Garren introduced the priority kitchen system, revolutionizing service to ensure seamless experiences for both dine-in and off-premis patrons. Furthermore, Garren's fervent passion for training and his commitment to delivering unparalleled service set the gold standard. His dedication is a testament to the values of service, quality, and community that embody the essence of the global Denny's family. 

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About Denny's Corp 

Denny's is a Spartanburg, S.C.-based family dining restaurant celebrating its 70th anniversary year and founding purpose: We love to feed people. That purpose has led us to become a restaurant brand that guests worldwide rely on for delicious value and craveable contemporary meals across breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night. Every day, we welcome guests to dine whenever and however they prefer, whether it's at our brick-and-mortar locations, via Denny's on Demand – the first delivery platform in the family dining segment, or at The Meltdown and The Burger Den, our two virtual restaurants. Our longstanding commitment to supporting our local communities is brought to life with our Mobile Relief Diner that delivers hot meals to our neighbors during times of disaster.

Denny's is one of the largest franchised full-service restaurant brands in the world, based on the number of restaurants. As of September 27, 2023, Denny's had 1,588 franchised, licensed and company restaurants, which includes 166 restaurants in Canada, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

To learn more about Denny's, please visit our brand website at or the brand's social channels via FacebookTwitterInstagramTikTokLinkedIn or YouTube.