About 80 news jobs will be created originally, and Neosho area residents will have a new place in which to dine, when Denny’s Restaurant opens next month in the former Shoney’s Restaurant location on Lusk Drive.

About 80 news jobs will be created originally, and Neosho area residents will have a new place in which to dine, when Denny’s Restaurant opens next month in the former Shoney’s Restaurant location on Lusk Drive.

Dawn Lafreeda, president and CEO, Den-Tex Central, Inc., San Antonio, Texas, has gained fame as the Denny’s Queen as the chain’s most successful franchisee. Lafreeda said Neosho will be the 75th Denny’s Restaurant under her banner in six states, and it will be their 12th location in Missouri.

She feels Neosho is a logical location for her company.

“We like small communities,” Lafreeda said. “There was an opportunity in Neosho. We’ve got a couple of Denny’s right outside of Neosho in Joplin, and we thought it would be a great fit for our company.”

She said a number of factors are considered before determining to locate a restaurant in a community.

“We look at demographics, the car counts, what the community is like as far as day population, night population,” she said.

Lafreeda said they always analyze whether the area is one that fits the Denny’s customer.

“Average median income, the correct amount for what a Denny’s customer might be,” she noted.

She continued, “We look at the city and how much competition there is. We obviously look at the financial ramifications of, ‘What’s the lease look like? The property taxes? The labor, the wages?’ We do a pretty detailed performer and demographic package before the site gets approved and Denny’s corporate gets involved in that as well.”

Lafreeda plans a hard opening date of July 13 for the Neosho store, and said the hiring process will begin next week. She expects to hire 80 people at the outset. She said applications are available from the store, 3001 Lusk Drive and from the Joplin Denny’s at the Flying J Truck Stop.

She said, “They’ll hire, they’ll train for a couple of weeks and then we’ll open.”

The general manager of the Neosho store is Neosho native Tim Ricchart. He said the first interviews with prospective employees will be conducted June 10 and 11 at the Denny’s Restaurant in Joplin at the Flying J. Then interviews will be held in the Neosho Denny’s on June 24 and 25.

Lafreeda said her chain offers a typical benefit package for employees.

“Depending on how long they are with us, and what job position they hold,” Lafreeda said.

She said they are paid during training, they get vacation and the company provides various benefits.

Lafreeda said “knowing her brand” is one of the secrets to the success of Den-Tex Central, Inc.

She continued, “I know the value we offer and I’m very comfortable with it. We have a really great team of people that are seasoned that have been with us a long time, that are experienced operators. When you have a great menu and a 24-hour concept. People come, they like our two, four, six, eight value menu. We’re family-oriented, we’re always open, and that’s a draw. I think that’s a success and that’s why I’m a success because I am with a company that offers me that kind of platform.”

Lafreeda said Denny’s is well known for its Grand Slam breakfast.

“Which is a great value: two eggs, two bacon, two pancakes, two sausage, but with that you also have your ‘build your own Grand Slam,’ where you can create basically any combination of breakfast that you want,” she said.

She said they also have their two, four, six, eight value menus.

“So anybody can afford to eat at Denny’s,” said Lafreeda. “If you can’t afford $8 or $10, there’s a $2 option, a $4 option and a $6 option. We have a program in place for senior citizens. We have a lot of great burgers on our lunch menu; our shakes are fabulous; people will really love some of our new dinner offerings. We’ve just got a great, great variety of food options. I think we’re just the perfect fit for Neosho.”

Lafreeda said she is looking forward to opening a Denny’s in Neosho.
She said, “We love serving a community, and there’s no Denny’s there so we’re looking forward to marking our presence.”

Denny’s seating capacity will be 150.

Mike Franks, executive director of economic development for the Neosho Area Business and Industrial Foundation, Inc., said Lafreeda is the ‘best of the best’ of franchisees for Denny’s Restaurants. Beginning her Denny’s career as a hostess at the age of 16, Lafreeda bought her first store when she was 23, and Neosho is her 75th Denny’s Restaurant, located in Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Arkansas and Oklahoma.