The friends behind the The First Supper
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Event: The First Supper by The Den by Denny’s
When: Sept. 2-3, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Denny’s Chicken Strips
Every year, students from all ages at Case Western Reserve University gather at the weekend hotspot, The Den by Denny’s, to feed their nighttime hunger pangs. To some, going to The Den seems like a CWRU rite of passage. So much so that this past Friday night three second-year students, Will Erickson, Tyler Kohrt and John Paul Peralta, decided to create a Facebook event just to ring in the new year the only they know how: by going to The Den.
Erickson explained how the idea of the event came to be: “Last year we got into the habit of going to Denny’s a lot, and we were all really annoyed when it wasn’t open during the summer, and so we felt this should be some type of inaugural event. You know, the first weekend night that Denny’s is open—like a christening.”
The idea of a “christening” inspired Erickson and his friends Kohrt and Peralta to name the event, “The First Supper.”
“It was just the three of us going to the top of the hill going,” Peralta clarified. “Wouldn’t it just be funny if we had everyone go and we literally invited everyone on our friends list and then people started coming?”
“That was the part we didn’t anticipate. People started inviting their friends,” Kohrt said.
“I was thinking for sure there was going to be 17 people interested,” Tyler added.
Even though this fake event started off as a joke between friends, it was eventually shared with 324 people, with 122 interested and 137 who went. Erickson soon began to notice the climbing numbers.
“After the first day, it was 50 people and I was like ‘I don’t know what the fire code on the Denny’s building is but….’” he said. “When it started getting kinda serious, I thought I should clarify that this is not an event by Denny’s. Nobody is getting any free food. At this point, even if that many people are going, I don’t want people expecting there to be some kind of event or programming. It’s literally just—‘Hey you wanna go to Denny’s?’”
Even though it was not an official event, Erickson said, “If one person comes to this, solely because they were invited—complete, absolute success.”
Kohrt talked about “shenanigans” that are a part of the friends’ outing to The Den: “….Last semester, we figured out that in Tapingo, you can change your name on the ticket. So every time we would go to Denny’s, which was at least three times a week, we would do themes of names so they would know we were coming.”
Some examples of these themed names were the ‘Man, The Myth and The Legend’ or ‘Khloe, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian.’ Erickson said, ”We did Popes once. It was like ‘Can I get Constantino the 16th, Constance the Fourth and Blessed Pope Benedict the Ninth.’ It kinda gave us an excuse to do things together because we don’t really have any classes together.”
One could say that The Den solidified their friendship.
Peralta explained, “A big part of it is that Will and I did a lot of shows last semester and…most days I wouldn’t be back and wouldn’t have time to eat anything during the days, so the only place I could eat was Denny’s. So I’d text them, and these guys are always down to go to the Denny’s at 1 a.m. after I finish my work.”
Erickson said, “Yeah, It’s a hub.” Peralta added, “When I think of this friendship, or any friendship for that matter, I think Denny’s.”
They not only see The Den as the glue in their relationship, but also imperative to their relationships with some of the workers.
Peralta gave an example, “On my birthday, I made my Tapingo name ‘It’s my birthday’ and went and got it, this was before I knew Johnny, who is one of the workers, but I went there and my friend Margaret who was with me … goes to Johnny, who she didn’t know at the time, [and says] ‘Can I sing “Happy Birthday” over the loudspeaker’ and Johnny said, ‘Yeah, go for it.’ So Maggie sang ‘Happy Birthday’ over the intercom and it blasts into Northside, and I get my food and I had three chicken wraps, four chicken tenders and a bunch of onion rings and fries and all this sauce.”
Kohrt said, “It’s like a community now. It’s not just a buyer/seller kinda thing. It’s deeper than that.”
When asked if they would ever do another event like this again, Peralta said, “Be on the lookout for The Last Supper. I am in the camp that the First Supper should never happen again because now it’s gone mainstream. We need to do it once and then that’s it. We should leave it for the freshmen next year.”
After attending the event, I will say that Erickson got more than he asked for. I saw many more people than usual gathered at The Den for the same thing as these three friends—camaraderie and chicken strips.
“That’s the amazing thing about Denny’s,” said Erickson, “It’s connects people.”