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|Founded||March 15, 1965|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Founder||Alan Stillman and Daniel R. Scoggin|
|Headquarters||Dallas, Texas, U.S.|
Number of locations
|869 (February 2020)|
360 (United States)
|Worldwide (except for Sub-Saharan Africa)|
|Owner||TriArtisan Capital Partners|
TGI Fridays (formerly stylized as T.G.I. FRiDAY’S) is an American restaurant chain focusing on casual dining. The company is owned by TriArtisan Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, that purchased the company from Sentinel Partners in October 2019. The name is asserted to stand for "Thank God It's Friday", although as of 2010[update] some television commercials for the chain have also made use of the alternative phrase, "Thank Goodness It's Friday."
Alan Stillman opened the first TGI Fridays 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 TGI Fridays 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 American Made Tiffany Style Lamps, mostly by the Somers Family, 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 TGI Fridays' traditional birthday song. Footage of interviews with patrons from this TGI Fridays was featured in Robert Downey Sr.'s film No More Excuses (1968). 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 TGI Fridays 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 TGI Fridays, 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.
TGI Fridays 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. TGI Fridays 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 TGI Fridays began two years after the Manhattan location opened, in Memphis, Tennessee's  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 TGI Fridays previous best. Families began visiting the new suburban locations during the day for casual food; "it took six or seven years, but T.G.I. Fridays became a very different animal", Stillman said. Attracted by this performance, he merged into the Dallas franchise forming TGI Fridays, Inc., and Scoggin was the CEO for the next 15 years. Scoggin is credited with the then-new 200 seat prototype as well as many of the TGI Fridays innovations including a large from scratch menu, potato skins, bartender Olympics, and frozen drinks.
The company was sold to Carlson Companies in 1975. With this sale, Stillman and the original investors departed. Stillman kept the original location, and now married, founded Smith & Wollensky in 1977 with Benson. Scoggin continued as CEO on an earn-out contract and finalized his sale in 1980.
When the sale was finalized, 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. Scoggin developed the first international franchise and the template for future international development. The first restaurant was opened in the UK with Whitbread PLC. Prior to Scoggin's departure in 1986, the company was positioned to appeal to a broader consumer profile. Alcohol consumption was de-emphasized, and quality was emphasized over quantity.
A brand extension, which features the TGI Fridays concept combined with the atmosphere of a sports bar, called "Fridays Front Row Sports Grill", is found at two Major League Baseball stadiums which each overlook the playing field: Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona and Miller Park in Milwaukee.
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 the most successful financially. In October 2009, Haymarket broke the world record for biggest profit made in any week, throughout TGI Fridays' history, and it has been home to several past winners from the bartenders Olympics, a contest started by Scoggin.
In 2013, as part of "Operation Swill", investigators in New Jersey raided 13 TGI Fridays franchised restaurants owned by The Briad Group. They found that the bars were replacing premium brand alcoholic beverages with lower-cost brands yet charging patrons for the more expensive liquor.
TGI Fridays is a franchising operation, with franchisees owning most of the outlets. The largest franchisee is The Briad Group in New Jersey. Whitbread PLC was a major international franchisee. Up until 2007, Whitbread had 45 locations in the UK. On January 17, 2007, Whitbread sold operating rights of all 45 restaurants back to T.G.I. Fridays UK Limited (a consortium consisting of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc. and ABN Amro Capital) thus exiting a partnership formed in 1986. TGI Fridays has also been used as a restaurant for hotels run by Country Inns & Suites by Carlson brand.
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The newer TGI Fridays 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". The logo design was evolved in 2013 by Jane MacDowall and her creative team in Scotland. Most TGI Fridays 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 TGI Fridays 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.
TGI Fridays 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 and US menus offer gluten-free items.
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TGI Fridays currently has over 870 restaurants in around 60 countries (excluding the United States).
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- TGI Fridays Restaurants Timeline Archived January 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Also, their menu cover page says, "Thank Golly-G It's Friday".
- Patton, Phil (December 1994). "AGENTS of CHANGE". American Heritage. Archived from the original on September 6, 2008.
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- Witchel, Alex (December 30, 2008). "A Grown-Up Takes the Long View". New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
- Koresky, Michael (May 22, 2012). "Eclipse Series 33: Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr". Criterion Collection. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
Codirected with Downey’s sometime editor Robert Soukis, it was originally conceived as a showcase for footage left over from a five-minute ABC news segment Downey had been hired to shoot about the singles-bar scene on New York’s Upper East Side (including the original T.G.I. Friday’s). In these segments, the offscreen director asks various partiers, in clubs and on the street, their thoughts about the “so-called sexual revolution.”
- Schneider, Daniel B. (December 27, 1998). "F.Y.I". New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
- "Granddaddy of singles bars: a look at T.G.I. Fridays today". Nation's Restaurant News. September 1, 1986. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
- "Handbook of Marketing Research Methodologies for Hospitality and Tourism", Dr. Ronald A. Nykiel, 2007
- High Profile, "Dan Scoggin", The Dallas Morning News, Sunday, January 27, 1985, Section E
- Martin, Richard (April 18, 1994). "TGI Fridays forges ahead in 'unfriendly' territory – Europe". Nation's Restaurant News. Archived from the original on January 2, 2014.
- "Fridays, Red Lobster: Casual dining for sale". America's Markets (USA Today). Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "Sentinel in talks to sell TGI Fridays's stake". PE Hub. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
- Morley, Hugh (May 22, 2013). "N.J. raids restaurants in Bergen, Passaic counties in liquor scam probe". NorthJersey.com. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- "Scores of TGI Fridays among New Jersey bars accused of substituting cheap alcohol for premium brands in statewide crackdown". Daily Mail (UK). May 23, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
- Gingras, Brynn (May 23, 2013). "13 TGI Fridays in New Jersey Accused of Faking Premium Liquor". NBC 4 New York. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- The Briad Group, Hoovers – accessed January 10, 2010
- Media > Press Releases > Archive
- "TGI FRIDAYS MENU PRICES | TGIF Menu". Retrieved July 26, 2016.
Media related to T.G.I. Friday's at Wikimedia Commons