Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Heart Was Broken This Valentine's Day

I have a serious case of Denny's denial. I've had it for nearly 15 years now. On nearly every measure available to a the human race living in an age of history that is reaping the benefits of the renaissance, enlightenment and scientific revolution, Denny's is bad. The decor is old and tacky, service is typically poor, the food is filled with grease and fat, the prices aren't great, and the atmosphere is typically unsanitary. Despite these admittedly obvious flaws, I vehemently defended the chain for one simple reason: the Suntree Denny's.
Hanging out with fellow Rockledge High School Seniors just outside of Denny's
A Denny's establishment right on the edge of the small neighborhood of Suntree (just a few minutes from where I lived in Viera, FL) consistently bucked the trend by providing a good Denny's experience. Starting out as a high school student I began an epic multi-year streak of eating nothing but "Moons Over My Hammy" at this Denny's. The streak was only ended after I was at a Denny's in Tampa and realized I didn't have enough money and had to settle for just a grand slam. My experience was so consistently good that it blinded me to the poor experiences I received at other Denny's. I just kept chowing down on those amazingly wonderful ham, egg and cheese grilled sandwiches knowing that Suntree Denny's existed and proved the critics wrong. All throughout my time at Florida State University, I vehemently argued with friends that Denny's was superior to places like IHOP and Perkins (Julie Viel), knowing that Suntree Denny's was the shining jewel in Denny's crown.

This past February 14, St. Valentine's Day, I headed out to my favorite Denny's to enjoy my favorite meal - "Moons Over My Hammy". I ventured out with a little bit of trepidation as my parent's had warned me that my beloved Denny's had begun taking a turn for the worse. I didn't want to believe my parents. Certainly it was far more likely that they were purposefully deceiving me than the ONE quality Denny's in the country would be returning to the mean?! My parents had to be wrong. They are getting old, their judgment can't be trusted right? I had to know. It was time for a Valentines Day date with my old flame to see if there was any magic left in the relationship. I pulled into the parking lot, stepped out into the cool night-time air awash in neon green, and opened the door to the restaurant.

Heartbreak. A soul-crushing heartbreak. My love had really let herself go. It wasn't the worst Denny's I've stepped into, but it was just so...mediocre. The decor had become worn and old, the service was pretty bad, the tables and booths were dirty and broken, and worst of all - the "Moons Over My Hammy" was stomach churning! (Okay, it's normally stomach churning, but after you've enjoyed the taste. This time it was because of the taste) I wanted to just break down and cry right there in the booth. Oddly enough, looking around at the people eating alongside of me, breaking down in a full sob would probably seem pretty normal. Worst of all, I recently ate a meal at Julie Viel's Perkins restaurant that put my Denny's to shame! What have I been fighting for all this time?!
A good meal at Perkins! Julie worked at this Perkins while in high school
When the waitress brought my check (after I had to flag her down because I hadn't seen her in 20 minutes or so) I looked at the final bill and half expected to see "A Crushed Soul" on the order. I don't know how your recent Valentine's Day went, but mine was pretty rough. I don't know how I will move on from here, but I know there's life after Denny's...there has to be right? No matter how much she has let herself go, I will always choose to remember the good times, when she was bright and happy and tasty. That's how I will choose to remember her. Goodbye my good friend.

Some of the good ol'times...



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