Ex-Denny’s location to re-open under new owner

Denny’s is likely to return to Aberdeen in the relatively near future.

Seattle-area businessman Steve Kim, who owns a Denny’s in Puyallup and just opened another in Spanaway six months ago, has confirmed to The Daily World that he is in the process of purchasing the building at 418 W. Heron St. in Aberdeen that housed a Denny’s franchise for decades.

“It’s not quite finalized yet,” Kim said Friday morning. “I just opened the Spanaway location six months ago and I have to get everything going here before I can head over there.”

Kim said the Aberdeen location will undergo a thorough renovation before opening and that will take a little time.

“That’s why I’m holding off a little bit,” Kim said. “We have a major renovation to be done, but I’m targeting the end of the year or early next spring.”

According to the latest rolls from the Grays Harbor County Assessor’s Office, the building was assessed at $435,000 in 2009 and the lot it sits on — nearly a half-acre — was valued at $292,500.

The location was a Denny’s for many years until the previous owner — Seattle businessman Omar Aziz — ended his relationship with the Denny’s Corp. and renamed his four Western Washington restaurants America’s Diner.

That didn’t work out, as Aziz eventually filed for both Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy and Chapter 11 bankruptcy in regards to his restaurants.

On December 11, 2011, he abruptly closed the Aberdeen restaurant, informing his employees — several of whom had worked at the Denny’s for decades — of the closure with a note on the locked doors. Many of them were never paid for their final weeks of work, though a community fundraiser garnered more than $30,000 to help the 13 jilted and displaced employees through the holidays and beyond.

“I know there was some bad publicity with the former owner,” Kim said. “That’s why I’m doing my homework … and trying to get a good reputation before I open it up.”