Denny’s Hires Dallas-Based Exec as Its First Chief Digital and Technology Officer

Pankaj Patra will support Denny's iconic diner and growing Keke's brands in a new enterprise role at Denny's Corp. The Dallas executive joins the company from Brinker International, where he served as SVP and CIO.

Dallas-based executive Pankaj Patra has been hired as the first chief digital and technology officer of Denny’s Corp., the South Carolina-based owner and operator of the Denny’s and Keke’s brands.

In a newly created enterprise role supporting both restaurant chains, Patra will accelerate capabilities across all digital, tech, and information areas, Denny’s said.

“Our restaurant teams and our guests rely on technology to enable a seamless experience, which makes the work that our IT team does absolutely critical,” Denny’s CEO Kelli Valade said in a statement. “We are excited to add Pankaj to the team to help us build on the solid foundation already in place, while leading us in identifying new, relevant, and innovative solutions to serve our guests, employees, and franchisees in the future.”

Patra joins Denny’s from Dallas-based Brinker International, parent company of Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy. At Brinker he was senior VP and CIO, overseeing IT and data security for the company’s brands.

Denny’s said Patra has 25 years of experience as an innovative enterprise tech architect, digital strategist and IT leader.

“Denny’s is an iconic restaurant company that understands the connection between great people and smart technology,” Patra said in the announcement.  “I look forward to working collaboratively to identify opportunities for improvement and implement exciting, innovative, transformative solutions.”

Patra earned his undergraduate degree from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India, and attained his MBA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

He is a member of the Dallas chapter of the International Food and Beverage Technology Association.

Patra will assume the new position effective Oct. 30.

The company said that Michael Furlow, Denny’s EVP and chief information officer, will remain on staff through the end of the year to support the transition.

Denny’s Corp. consists of the Denny’s brand and the Keke’s brand. As of June 28, the Denny’s brand consisted of 1,591 global restaurants, 1,525 of which were franchised and licensed restaurants and 66 of which were company operated. The Keke’s brand consisted of 55 restaurants, 47 of which were franchised restaurants and eight of which were company operated.

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