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Harold Butler

Born: 16-Jun-1921
Died: 9-Jul-1998
Location of death: La Paz, Mexico
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Denny's

In 1953 Harold Butler opened a 900-square-foot donut shop in Lakewood, California called Danny's Donuts. There was no 'Danny'; the name was chosen because Butler hoped it would sound more familiar and friendly to customers than Harold's or Butler's Donuts. He opened a second, larger restaurant the following year which included a grill and offered sandwiches, hamburgers, and breakfasts. As the number of his Danny's restaurants grew, Butler rebranded the larger, full-service restaurants Danny's Coffee Shops, until 1959, when a small rival chain called Coffee Dan threatened to sue, and Butler changed the name of his restaurants to Denny's (there was no 'Denny', either). The chain began franchising in 1963, and went public in 1966.

In 1969 Butler sought to have Denny's purchase Parvin-Dohrmann Co., which at that time was the owner of Caesar's Palace and other prestige resort locations. The deal fell through amid accusations that Butler had made one offer for Parvin-Dohrmann publicly but made a better offer under the table. The resulting bad press led to Butler's resignation from Denny's. He made numerous investments in fast-food over the remainder of his life, at various times controlling such small chains as Harold’s Dinner House, Hershel's Deli & Bakery, JoJo's restaurants, Naugles Mexican restaurants, O.J.'s, and Sam's Hofbrau.

Father: Carman Houston Butler (b. 1-May-1894, d. 16-Jun-1968)
Mother: Maude Mae Tinnin Butler (d. 25-Dec-1985)
Sister: Janell Butler
Sister: Opal Butler
Wife: Jean Ridgeway Butler
Son: Edward Butler
Son: James Butler
Daughter: Patricia Butler Turesdale
Daughter: Suan Butler Howell

    Denny's Founder & President (1953-69)
    Member of the Board of Winchell's Donut House (1968-69)


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