(the) Posh Denny's

The Posh Denny's, more properly known as the Yerba Buena Denny's, refers to the Denny's at 816 Mission Street between 4th & 5th Streets, right near the Metreon. In the early 90s, Denny's Restaurants underwent a makeover of sorts. Most of the major locations west of the Mississippi did away with the green-and-yellow-formica diner look in favor of sleek anthracite-grey-corellite tabletops, indirect halogen lighting, and lots of blond wood. A bit of corrugated aluminum or knurled-stainless-steel was not uncommon either. It was supposed to make Denny's a hipper restaurant, a place you weren't embarassed to be seen in. Unfortunately, they served the same crappy food so it was still a place you were embarassed to be seen in.

Somehow, San Francisco missed the boat on the Denny's Decor Revolution. Denny's locations in SF remained stoically stuck in the 80s, like a bad Phil Collins song (redundant?) The 816 Mission Street location had been "coming soon" for almost two years before it finally opened -- coincidentally, right around when the almost-two-years-delayed Metreon opened up. Around this time, the channel had been meeting regularly for the now-dormant #GaySF Movie Nights (see: I'm With Julie) and the Denny's made a convenient (not to mention, open) location for post-movie foodings.

We were amazed to see that this location looked unlike any Denny's most of us had seen before. (Except Decay- and Juhrom, who spent their college years in Texas; Denny's Texan locations evidentally set the standard for the Denny's Decor Revolution). It was all like we'd been told -- the halogen lighting, the blond wood, the warm golden yellow painted walls, the textured aluminum -- why, they even had framed (framed!) litho prints of old French apéritif ads like you'd see in Le Centrale or Café Claude. This...this was no ordinary Denny's! This was a Posh Denny's.

The first time we descended en masse after a movie night, the dozen of us overwhelmed the hostess. She looked startled -- Thursday is a slow night for them I guess. "Um....are you....did you call ahead?" she sputtered. "Call ahead? What, Denny's takes reservations now?" I asked. Wow. This was posh! No, no, she assured me, that's okay, and directed two servers to assemble a table for us. I half expected her to clap her hands imperiously like a snooty maître(sse) d'hôtel! From that evening on, the Denny's at 816 Mission was christened the Posh Denny's.

Because of its open-all-the-time hours and its proximity to the SOMA clubs, it became the default post-clubbing rendez-vous location. Thus, many a P'n'M field trip wound up under the unforgiving halogens of the Posh Denny's and it became the setting for many an anecdote. Ira lived nearby and Nutation's parking spot (he worked downtown then and had a secured parking spot) was right around the corner, so the Magnificent Seven could often be found decamped in one of the booths, terrorizing the waitstaff and trading gossip that made it a location worthy of channel lore.