Denny’s Food N Sport torn down

Photo by Chad Koenen
Brogard’s Plumbing, Heating and Excavating tore down the former Denny’s Food N Sport building in Henning on Thursday. The former convenience store was sold in late 2022 and a new convenience store, car wash and shop will be constructed in the location of the former convenience store, car wash and Pete’s Amoco. 

By Chad Koenen


Former patrons, employees and community members took time on Thursday to pay their respect to a longtime staple in the Henning community. The former Denny’s Food N Sport building was torn down throughout the day as onlookers gathered in their vehicles, or on foot across the street, to watch the once bustling convenience store come crashing down.

Denny’s Food N Sport has been closed since last April, but its memory lived on through former employees and patrons. As news spread about its eventual demise, which will make way for a large convenience store, car wash and shop, several former employees took time to reminisce about what the convenience store meant to the greater Henning community. Pete’s Amoco will also be torn down at a later date to make way for the new convenience store. 

Photo by Chad Koenen
Denny’s Food N Sport convenience store in Henning was taken down on Thursday as part of an expansive project that will construct a new convenience store, car wash and shop at the location of Denny’s Food N Sport, car wash and Pete’s Amoco. 

What was once a lumber company at the turn of the last century was transformed into a one-stop-shop that provided first jobs for high school students for generations. The convenience store evolved from just a place to fill up a tank of gas to a place where patrons could get a bite to eat, rent a movie, buy sporting goods and even get some items to stock up their shelves. 

For some of the longtime employees of Denny’s Food N Sport, the move to tear down the building was bittersweet. 

“It’s going to be Henning’s own super store,” said longtime employee Rhonda Jorgenson of the new convenience store that is being planned in town. “It’s going to be hard to see it gone, but it is going to be good progress for town.”

Jorgenson began working at Denny’s Food N Sport in November of 1996. She was the last employee at the convenience store when it closed for good in April 2022. 

After moving to Henning from outside the community, Jorgenson said she enjoyed the opportunity to get to know people from behind the counter at the store. She especially liked the chance to see people she watched grow up as children in Henning come back with children of their own. 

Though she was the last employee at the once bustling convenience store, Jorgenson said the store was relatively quiet over the last few months it was open as it transitioned away from selling gas, bait and licenses. Nonetheless, people would routinely comment about how they would miss having the opportunity to buy a cup of coffee or get a sandwich on the run. The store was also open just a limited amount of hours during the week since Jorgenson was the only employee at the store. 

“I knew the time was getting short, but I thought we had more time,” said Jorgenson of the store closing in April. “People would come in and say ‘we are going to miss this place when it is gone. There won’t be any place to go for coffee when this place closes.’”

  Beginning in 1976, Brent Doolittle worked at what would become Denny’s Food N Sport for a total of 28 years. He worked for three different owners in his time at the convenience store, before he stepped away from the business in 1983 to be a stay at home dad and explore different professional options. 

He came back to the store in 2000 to manage the deli and work as a cook and remained at the convenience store until he stepped away for good in June of 2021.

“I spent 28 years in the building. It’s sad to see it go, but I am excited to see the new that will be there,” said Doolittle. “That building served the community for years and years and years.”

Doolittle fondly remembered the gas station before its most recent remodeling project as employees used to sit on a bench outside and waited for patrons to come and fill up their tanks with gas. The bench was a place to catch up with people in the community and was a type of laid back atmosphere not commonly seen in today’s culture. 

While he said it was bittersweet to see the longtime Henning staple come down, Doolittle said he was excited to see what will soon be constructed in its place—a large convenience store, shop, car wash, deli and bottle shop that will encompass both the former Denny’s Food N Sport, as well as nearby Pete’s Amoco and the Denny’s car wash across the street. 

“It’s just an end of an era, but it is fun (to see what will come next),” said Doolittle.