|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2009)|
|Type||Wholly owned subsidiary|
|Founded||March 15, 1965
New York City
|Founder(s)||Daniel R. Scoggin|
|Headquarters||Carrollton, Texas, U.S.|
|Number of locations||992 (March 2011)|
TGI Friday's (often shortened to "Friday's" in most countries, previously stylized as "T.G.I. Friday's", and stylized "FRiDAY'S", or "T.G.I.s" in Ireland and the United Kingdom) is an American restaurant chain focusing on casual dining.
The company is a unit of the Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners , who purchased the company from Carlson Companies in May 2014. Its name is taken from the expression TGIF. The company asserts that it stands for "Thank Goodness It's Friday", although as of 2010 some television commercials for the chain have also made use of the alternative phrase, "Thank God It's Friday's." The chain is known for its appearance, with red-striped canopies, brass railings, Tiffany lamps, and frequent use of antiques as decor.
Alan Stillman opened the first T.G.I. Friday's restaurant in 1965 in New York. He lived in a neighborhood with many airline stewardesses, fashion models, secretaries, and other young, single people on the East Side of Manhattan near the Queensboro Bridge, and hoped that opening a bar would help him meet women. At the time, Stillman's choices for socializing were non-public cocktail parties or "guys' beer-drinking hangout" bars that women usually did not visit; he recalled that "there was no public place for people between, say, twenty-three to thirty-seven years old, to meet." He sought to recreate the comfortable cocktail-party atmosphere in public despite having no experience in the restaurant business.
With $5,000 of his own money and $5,000 borrowed from his mother, Stillman purchased a bar he often visited, The Good Tavern at the corner of 63rd Street and First Avenue, and renamed it T.G.I. Friday's after the expression "Thank God! It's Friday!" from his years at Bucknell University. The new restaurant, which opened on March 15, 1965, served standard American cuisine, bar food, and alcoholic beverages, but emphasized food quality and preparation. The exterior featured a red-and-white striped awning and blue paint, the Gay Nineties interior included fake Tiffany lamps, wooden floors, Bentwood chairs, and striped tablecloths, and the bar area added brass rails and stained glass. The employees were young and wore red-and-white striped soccer shirts, and every time someone had a birthday, the entire restaurant crew came around with a cake and sang Friday's traditional birthday song. The first location closed in 1994 and is now a British pub called "Baker Street"; the brass rails are still there.
Although Malachy McCourt's nearby eponymous bar preceded T.G.I. Friday's and Stillman credited the media for creating the term, he had unintentionally created one of the first singles bars. It benefited from the near-simultaneous availability of the birth-control pill and Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique:
I don’t think there was anything else like it at the time. Before T.G.I. Friday’s, four single twenty-five year-old girls were not going out on Friday nights, in public and with each other, to have a good time. They went to people’s apartments for cocktail parties or they might go to a real restaurant for a date or for somebody’s birthday, but they weren’t going out with each other to a bar for a casual dinner and drinks because there was no such place for them to go.
T.G.I. Friday's was one of the first to use promotions such as ladies' night, and Stillman achieved his hopes of meeting women; "Have you seen the movie Cocktail? Tom Cruise played me!...Why do girls want to date the bartender? To this day, I’m not sure that I get it." He and the restaurant benefited from its location—according to Stillman, 480 stewardesses lived in the apartment building next door—and received publicity in national magazines. T.G.I. Friday's became so popular that it had to install ropes to create an area for those waiting in line, also unusual at the time for a restaurant. A competitor, Maxwell's Plum, opened across the street, and others soon followed.
With fellow Bucknell graduate Ben Benson, Stillman opened other restaurants, including Tuesday's, Thursday's, Wednesday's, and Ice Cream Sunday's. Franchising of T.G.I. Friday's began in 1971 in Memphis, Tennessee in the Overton Square district; that location has since closed. In 1971 Daniel R. Scoggin  acquired the rights to eight major midwest cities. In 1972 he opened with the first of a new prototype in Dallas. The raised square bar and multilevel dining became the company standard. Dallas doubled the sales and tripled profits of Friday's previous best. Attracted by this performance, Alan Stillman merged into the Dallas franchise forming T.G.I. Friday's, Inc. Mr. Scoggin was the CEO for the next 15 years. He is credited with the then-new 200 seat prototype as well as many of the Friday's innovations including a large from scratch menu, potato skins, bartender Olympics, and a legendary offering of frozen drinks for the ladies. The company was sold to Carlson Companies in 1975. With this sale Mr. Stillman and the original investors departed. Mr. Stillman kept the original location and now married, founded Smith & Wollensky in 1977 with Benson. Mr. Scoggin continued as CEO on an earn-out contract and finalized his sale in 1980.
When the sale was finalized, Mr. Scoggin signed a new contract to continue as the company's CEO. When the company was passing through the 100 store mark it issued an Initial Public Offering in 1983 with Goldman Sachs. As a requirement of underwriting, Mr. Scoggin signed a new contract and did the road show. Mr. Scoggin developed the first international franchise and the template for future international development. The first restaurant was opened in the UK with Whitbread. Prior to his departure in 1986, the company was successfully positioned to appeal to a broader consumer profile. With help of bartender "flair" and high quality products, alcohol consumption was de-emphasized, emphasizing quality over quantity. This market emphasis was climaxed with a FedEx DC-10 full of Beaujolais Nouveau arriving in the U.S. winning a world-wide race in the U.S. A book of Dan Scoggin's business theories and philosophies is soon to be published.
Friday's has also been used as a restaurant for hotels run by Country Inns & Suites by Carlson brand. The largest Friday's franchisee is Briad Group with about 70 locations in the United States. An international franchisee was Whitbread PLC, the owner of TGI Friday's UK. Up until 2007, it had 45 locations in the UK. On January 17, 2007, Whitbread sold operating rights of all 45 restaurants back to TGI Friday's UK Limited (a consortium consisting of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc. and ABN Amro Capital) thus exiting a partnership formed in 1986. From 2008 to 2009, Guy Fieri was the spokesperson for TGI Friday's.
A brand extension, which features the Friday's concept combined with the atmosphere of a sports bar and is called Friday's Front Row Sports Grill, is found at two Major League Baseball stadiums which each overlook the playing field: Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona and Milwaukee's Miller Park.
Historically, the chain's highest grossing location is at Haymarket Leicester Square, which opened in 1992 in Central London. The Haymarket branch is also regarded as the 'most popular' branch as well as being financially most successful. In October 2009, Haymarket broke the world record for biggest profit made in any week, throughout T.G.I Friday's history, and has also been home to several past winners from the bartenders Olympics, a contest started by Dan Scoggin.
On May 20, 2014, T.G.I. Friday's was sold to Sentinel Capital Partner and TriArtisan Capital Partners.
The newer T.G.I. Friday's franchises (as well as redesigned restaurants) are more contemporary, with wallpaper, granite exteriors, and red-and-white striped lamps instead of Tiffany. The exteriors have stucco, the entrance doors have "F"-shaped handles, and a metal cup above the door has a stripe saying "In Here, It's always Friday". Most Friday's have a propeller and a rowing scull on display as part of their antiques, which are actually a part of a story told to all Friday's employees; the scull always contains a pair of saddle shoes and a bottle of champagne to remind employees of the value of teamwork, leadership, and celebrating success. The propeller is always above or near the bar. The thought is that the bar "propels" the restaurant.
Friday's has a large menu with an emphasis on alcoholic beverages which includes their famous "Ultimate" drinks which are served in an 18 oz. (532 mL) glass, and often made with top-shelf and darker liquors. They also focus on a variety of blended drinks that are signature to the Friday's name, such as the "Tropicolada" and the "Friday's Freeze". A section of the menu is dedicated to the "Jack Daniel's Grill", a selection of items with a special Jack Daniel's-branded sauce.
T.G.I. Friday's formerly served Atkins-approved appetizers, entrées, and desserts. In 2006, the Atkins name was removed from the menu, but the restaurant continues to offer both low-carbohydrate and low-fat menu items. The UK menu offers gluten-free items.
The company licenses its name to Heinz which produces a line of frozen foods sold in grocery stores. A line of snack items and pre-mixed liquor drinks are also licensed and sold. The franchise’s exteriors were redesigned in 2009 by Gilfillan Callahan Architects, represented by Carlson Restaurants Worldwide.
Friday's currently has over 920 restaurants in 61 countries (excluding the United States).
Customers can participate in the T.G.I. Friday's customer satisfaction survey to share their feedback and help the restaurant enhance its service. For those who have difficulties to take the survey, they can find detailed guidance online.
1: T.G.I. Friday's in Ireland is operated on an all-island basis.
- T.G.I. FRIDAY’S® FACTS
- T.G.I. Friday's Restaurants Timeline. Also, their menu cover page says "Thank Goodness It's Friday".
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