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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
|992 (March 2011)|
|Owner||Sentinel Capital Partners
TriArtisan Capital Partners
TGI Fridays 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. 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." Fridays is known for their unique dining and bar-side experiences throughout the world.
Alan Stillman opened the first T.G.I. 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 T.G.I. 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 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 T.G.I. Fridays 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. 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 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. 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. T.G.I. 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 T.G.I. 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 T.G.I. 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 T.G.I. Fridays, Inc. and 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 T.G.I. 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. Prior to his departure in 1986, the company was positioned to appeal to a broader consumer profile. Alcohol consumption was de-emphasized, emphasizing quality over quantity.
A brand extension, which features the T.G.I. Fridays concept combined with the atmosphere of a sports bar and is 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 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 Fridays history, and has also been home to several past winners from the bartenders Olympics, a contest started by Dan Scoggin.
T.G.I. Fridays is a franchising operation, with franchisees owning most of the outlets. The largest franchisee is The Briad Group in New Jersey. An international franchisee was Whitbread PLC, the owner of T.G.I. Fridays 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 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.T.G.I. Fridays has also been used as a restaurant for hotels run by Country Inns & Suites by Carlson brand.
The newer T.G.I. 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". Most T.G.I. 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 T.G.I. 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.
T.G.I. 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.
Beanstalk, a global brand extension agency, represents T.G.I. Fridays. Beanstalk helped 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.
T.G.I. Fridays currently has over 900 restaurants in around 60 countries (excluding the United States).
- T.G.I. Fridays in Ireland is operated on an all-island basis.
In 2013, as part of "Operation Swill", investigators in New Jersey raided 13 T.G.I. Fridays franchised restaurants owned by The Briad Group. They found that the bars were replacing premium brand alcoholic beverages with lower-cost brands while charging them for the more expensive liquor.
- T.G.I. FRIDAY’S® FACTS
- T.G.I. Fridays Restaurants Timeline. Also, their menu cover page says "Thank Goodness It's Friday".
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- "Scores of TGI Fridays among New Jersey bars accused of substituting cheap alcohol for premium brands in statewide crackdown". Daily Mail (UK). 23 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Gingras, Brynn (23 May 2013). "13 TGI Fridays in New Jersey Accused of Faking Premium Liquor". NBC 4 New York. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
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