When Denny’s was developing its new Allnighter menu, consumers were not just invited into the chain’s test kitchen to help the culinary team develop late-night dishes, they were brought in under the cloak of darkness. “We did it at 11 o’clock at night,” says Mark Chmiel, chief marketing and innovation officer for the 1,500-unit family-dining chain. “It had the vibe of what late night is all about.”As the restaurant industry grows more competitive, restaurant operators are ...

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