John Miller, president and CEO of Denny’s Corp. , has been working in the restaurant industry for 40 years, or as he describes it, he’s “been around a while.”
The foodservice veteran is this year’s recipient of the Norman Award. The Nation’s Restaurant News award is named for the late industry pioneer Norman Brinker, who founded Brinker International Inc., and honors a restaurant executive who consistently mentors and inspires future leaders.
Miller’s 40 years of experience includes the CEO role of Taco Bueno Restaurants Inc. and several management roles at Brinker International Inc., operator of Chili’s and Maggiano’s Little Italy casual-dining chains.
Miller has done a lot of things in his career, including rolling out several successful initiatives at Denny’s, but if you ask him what he likes best about his job, it’s not what you might think.
“Trust me, I love competing in the marketplace, I love the team at Denny’s, I love where we sit in family,dining, I appreciate the opportunity that has been afforded to me, but of all of those things, the greatest blessing of all is being able to see people develop and blossom and grow,” he said.
He likes to build what he calls “generational wealth” with younger colleagues “by giving them something they couldn’t have had without the experience of a prior generation. I love that,” he said.
Under Miller’s leadership Denny’s has seen revitalization — with menu item improvements, a new remodeling plan, enhanced customer service and a commitment to a more diverse workplace. This year the chain received a MenuMasters award from NRN for its revamped buttermilk pancake recipe. The Spartanburg, S.C.-based operator has more than 1,700 locations around the world, and combined systemwide sales of $2.8 billion, according to the company. During a challenging year for full-service chains, Denny’s reported a domestic systemwide same-store sales increase…