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‘New Faces and Fresh Thinking’: Denny’s Commits to Expanding Black-Owned Franchises Months After McDonald’s Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit with Its Franchise Owners

Denny’s restaurant food chain recently announced a plan to expand its Black-owned franchises across America. The Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership program, created by the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, was launched in 2020, and aims to generate 100 Black-owned franchises by the end of 2023.

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(Photo: Dennys.com)

According to a press release on the MFHA’s site, the Pathways program is committed to expanding restaurant ownership opportunities and building wealth in the Black community. The goal is to enable Black entrepreneurs to open both single and multi-unit franchise businesses.

Franchises for people of color make up only eight percent of franchise business owners, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the International Franchise Association. MFHA states that people of color make up 13 percent of the U.S. population and nearly 10 percent of food service managers.

“At Denny’s, diversity, equity and inclusion are key components of our business strategy and that includes every part of our organization from our board of directors to our franchisee association,” said Denny’s CEO John Miller

“Our expanded partnership with MFHA will help close the ownership gap for Black business owners and bring new faces and fresh thinking to Denny’s,” he continued. “We’re humbled to be able to create more opportunities for Black business owners who are historically underrepresented in the restaurant industry.”

Denny’s and MFHA will work together to help Black men and women achieve their goal of ownership. Together, they will support participants with special training, coaching, mentoring and other resources to open and operate high-performing franchises.

MFHA founder and president Gerry Fernandez is as equally enthused about collaborating with the restaurant food chain. “MFHA is excited to welcome Denny’s to the Pathways program,” Fernandez said. “Together, we can make a lasting impact by helping Black entrepreneurs achieve their dream of owning their own restaurant, uplifting their communities, and building wealth for their family and future generations.”

In general, that may not always have been the case, as in recent times, the food franchise world for some Black owners reportedly has found far from a dream-come-true scenario.

In 2021, a couple of McDonald’s franchisee owners accused the company of a “predatory” growth strategy by steering Black operators into low-income, high-cost neighborhoods. By doing this, Black McDonald’s franchisees have lower profitability than their white counterparts. According to the lawsuit, Black operators’ annual net income is $400,000 less than white operators, Restaurant Business Online reported. The lawsuit was settled in December 2021.

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