Denny’s Shuts Down 54-Year-Old Oakland Location Due to Alarmingly High Crime Rates and Safety Concerns

By: Chris Gorrie | Published: Feb 04, 2024

Denny’s, the popular diner chain, has closed its sole restaurant in Oakland, California, citing concerns about customer and staff safety. 

The decision, although difficult, prioritizes the well-being of team members and guests, according to a company spokesperson. 

Denny’s Has Yet to Respond to Inquiries About Safety

The 24-hour diner, in operation for 54 years, was situated near Oakland International Airport and Oakland Arena.

The Oakland city skyline and the Bay Bridge behind it.

Basil D Soufi/Wikimedia Commons

Denny’s has not provided details about the safety measures taken or responded to inquiries regarding them. The closure follows the announcement by In-N-Out Burger, a cult West Coast burger chain, about the impending closure of its Oakland restaurant in March due to the “frequency and severity” of crimes affecting customers and staff.


In-N-Out’s Oakland Location Will Close in March

The closure of In-N-Out’s only Oakland location in March marks the first time in the company’s 75-year history that a store will shut down. 

In-N-Out Burger sign lit up. Behind the sign is a purple and blue sunset.

Lauren Siegert/Wikimedia Commons

The decision is attributed to the escalating crime rates in the surrounding area, with employees and customers falling victim to car break-ins, property damage, theft, and armed robberies.

Store Closures Due to Crime Is a Growing Trend

The closure of In-N-Out and Denny’s Oakland stores comes as a trend among companies attributing store closures to rising crime. 

An abandoned store on the side of the road.

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In a similar vein, Target announced the closure of nine stores across four metro areas in September, citing “unsustainable” levels of organized retail crime.

Target Closed 9 Stores Due to Organized Retail Crime

Target’s CEO, Brian Cornell, highlighted a significant increase in theft incidents involving “violence or threats of violence” since January 2023. 

Outside of a Target retail store.

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However, publicly available crime data did not entirely support Target’s claims, as Business Insider reported in October that closed stores did not experience higher crime rates compared to nearby open locations.

Are Retailers Looking for Government Intervention?

The phenomenon of retailers emphasizing crime as a factor in store closures may serve as a strategic move to prompt government intervention and address the growing issue of organized retail crime. 

A silhouette of someone holding another person at gunpoint. You can see a hand holding a gun and two hands raised in the light created from a window with its blinds open.

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This trend reflects the complex relationship between businesses, safety concerns, and the broader socio-economic landscape, prompting a nuanced discussion on the measures needed to address and mitigate crime-related challenges faced by companies. 


Denny’s Is Committed to Relocating Oakland Team Members

Denny’s emphasizes its commitment to relocating team members to available positions, ensuring their continuity within the company. 

Interior of a Denny’s diner, showing the counter and kitchen window. No one is visible.

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The closure of the Oakland location underscores the growing challenges faced by businesses in maintaining a safe environment for customers and employees.


Oakland Denny’s and In-N-Out Shared Challenges

In-N-Out Burger COO Denny Warnick attributes the closure to various criminal activities.

An In-N-Out 3x3 burger being shown close-up.

R4vi/Wikimedia Commons

The proximity of the Denny’s and In-N-Out restaurants, located less than a mile apart, highlights the shared challenges faced by businesses in the vicinity.


Oakland Crime Report Indicated Increased Robberies

The recent crime report from the city indicates a 10% increase in reported robberies between January 1 and January 28 compared to the three-year average. 

Black-and-white photo of a person holding a revolver.

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While this data reflects a concerning trend in certain types of crime, it also reveals a decrease in reported incidents of other offenses such as burglaries, car theft, and larceny during the same period.


The Impact of Crime of Local Business

The decisions by both Denny’s and In-N-Out Burger to close their Oakland locations underscore the complex intersection of public safety, business operations, and the challenges faced by companies in high-crime areas. 

A person is sitting in front of a closed convenience store. The store is boarded up and has for-sale signage on the walls.

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The ongoing efforts to address safety concerns in these establishments reflect a broader conversation about the impact of crime on local businesses and the measures needed to create secure environments for both employees and customers.


Small Businesses Are Being Affected as Well

Eddie’s Liquor in Rockridge is facing severe challenges in maintaining operations following four break-ins within the span of eight months. The most recent incident this week involved thieves ramming a truck into the front door, resulting in the theft of liquor, money, and the store’s safe.

The outside of a liquor store.

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Expressing the ongoing struggle, David Shrestha, owner of Eddie’s Liquors, stated, “We try our best to be here. We are not making that much money, and it keeps happening. Similar to other businesses closing down in Oakland, we might be another casualty.”


Oakland City Efforts at Intervention

Oakland City Councilmember Treva Reid has collaboratively engaged with law enforcement and conducted proactive discussions with local businesses, including Denny’s, aiming to tackle their concerns and stem further departures. 

A street intersection in Oakland’s Chinatown district.

Mliu92/Wikimedia Commons

Recognizing the complexity of the challenge, Reid emphasized the necessity of city and regional support to effectively address the issues. She asserted that becoming the primary leader in discussions with businesses is not solely her role; rather, it requires collective regional leadership to unite efforts and strategically leverage available resources for economic revitalization.


Prioritizing Safety in Business Operations

The closures of Denny’s and In-N-Out Burger in Oakland highlight the increasing importance of prioritizing safety in business operations. 

Two security cameras against a wall.

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These decisions underscore the challenges faced by companies in addressing crime-related issues affecting their locations, prompting a broader conversation about the need for effective measures to ensure a secure environment for all stakeholders.