Restaraunt slowly changing from Denny’s to Ironwood Grill |

Restaraunt slowly changing from Denny’s to Ironwood Grill

by Linda Hiller

Say goodbye to the Minden Denny’s and hello to the Ironwood Grill in the next couple of months.

Denny’s partner and manager Tony Koo, soon to be the manager of the Ironwood Grill, said the change from a large chain to a privately owned restaurant will enable him to be creative with the menu.

“This way, we can serve local customers better with more freedom to cater to their needs,” he said. “I’d like to put some good steaks or chili on the menu. I may do some Chinese food or prime rib. People are always asking for things like that.”

Koo said he thought Denny’s April 17, 1994 opening may have come too soon, explaining that the development of the area behind the north Minden site hasn’t moved as fast as earlier projections.

“Also, I don’t think we took into consideration the popularity of restaurants in area casinos like the Carson Valley Inn and Sharkey’s,” he added.

In spite of the Denny’s closure, Koo said he is optimistic about the future of business in Minden and looks forward to upgrading the menu and atmosphere at the new Ironwood Grill to better suit area customers. When the nearby movie theaters open this June, he said, there should be increased traffic and business.

“That’s why I decided to stay,” Koo said. “I think things look good for this area.”

For diehard Denny’s fans, Koo, who has worked with Denny’s for the last 10 years, said he plans to keep the breakfast and lunch menu very similar to current offerings.

“I want our regular customers to know that we’re not abandoning them,” he said.

Prior to his stint with Denny’s, Koo worked for restaurants in Southern California. One of the establishments he worked for was Ma Maison in Beverly Hills, where well-known chef Wolfgang Puck began making his famous gourmet pizzas and other break-through menu items.

Koo said he would like to add candles and flowers to the restaurant’s tables and “bring the lighting down a bit” for a more sophisticated atmosphere. He also hopes to cater to senior citizens, offering their favorites at reasonable prices.

“I also want to upgrade the dinner menu, adding maybe a theme night such as Monday, Chinese night, Tuesday, Prime rib night, and so on,” he said. “Maybe we could add fresh fish, depending on what is available. We’re still working that out.”

Koo said he also plans to continue working with schools in the Douglas County School District in offering incentive programs to help individual schools when families dine in the restaurant.

One thing he definitely doesn’t want to neglect is service to the customers.

“This is a new beginning, and while we are going to be upgrading the menu, we want to stress that service is always going to be our priority here,” Koo said. “What good is excellent food if you have bad service? We’ve always had great service here and plan to continue.”

Currently, Koo is working with a Minden advertising agency, Stockdale & Crum, to design a new logo and sign for the Ironwood Grill (maybe the Ironwood Grille). Watch for the new signs and official changeover by April.

The Ironwood Grill/Denny’s Restaurant is located at 1760 Highway 395 in north Minden.

Serving hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Phone 782-3313 for more information.

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