TGI Fridays℠ History
Updated December 2011
The first TGI Fridays restaurant opened in New York City at the corner of First Avenue and 63rd Street quickly becoming the meeting place for single adults, with $1 million in revenues its first year.
The first TGI Fridays menu was a chalkboard.
Memphis, Tennessee was the location for the second TGI Fridays.
TGI Fridays opened in Dallas in the spring of 1972. As in New York and Memphis, TGI Fridays took the city by storm. The Dallas restaurant had a record-setting $2 million in revenues its first year.
“Bar where the Singles Mingle (local swingles) hang out…Friday’s is the present phenomenon on the Dallas scene.”
Dallas Times Herald, April 25, 1972
“Friday’s in Old Town is one of the highest volume restaurants in Texas.”
Dallas Times Herald, October 19, 1972
TGI Fridays started the tradition of welcoming Friday in at midnight on Thursday night. Every Thursday night was like a New Year’s Eve party, with champagne, confetti and noisemakers.
“Thursdays are always the big deal at Friday’s, since that’s when the usually packed-anyway restaurant has its midnight gala with balloons and champagne.”
Dallas Times Herald, March 30, 1972
After dramatic success, it was decided to take the restaurant concept nationwide.
“It all began modestly enough. An unmarried New York City perfume salesman named Alan Stillman decided that the coolest way to meet the stewardesses in his neighborhood would be to buy a broken down beer joint, jazz it up with Tiffany lamps and mod young waiters and christen it – with an eye toward attracting the career crowd – the TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) crowd. Within one week the police had to ring Friday’s (as it quickly became known) with barricades to handle the nightly hordes of young singles. Hundreds of blatantly imitative emporiums soon opened their doors in scores of major cities – and an industry was born.”
Newsweek, July 16, 1973
TGI Fridays in Dallas (at Old Town Greenville Avenue) marked its one-year anniversary by selling everything on the menu for 1/10th the price.
TGI Fridays opened in the Houston Galleria on July 24. Seven astronauts, led by Alan Shepard, attend the restaurant’s grand opening.
After months in the test kitchen, TGI Fridays introduced what became an all-time favorite – Loaded Potato Skins.
TGI Fridays, with 12 restaurants in nine states, was acquired by Carlson Companies, Inc.
TGI Fridays restaurants opened in Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Colorado.
Assistant Travel Writer, Judy Williamson, reported “TGI Fridays is the grand-daddy of the singles bars…places come and places go but Friday’s endures.”
Dallas Morning News, February 7, 1982
Fridays℠ Flings and Smoothies, flavorful, non-alcoholic drinks, were introduced. A company spokesperson said, “We introduced Smoothies in celebration of the 1984 Summer Olympics. They add another option for guests who decide not to order alcohol.”
TGI Fridays celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The first international development agreement was signed with Whitbread & Co. PLC of London.
Whitbread & Co. PLC opened the first international TGI Fridays restaurant in Birmingham, England.
TGI Fridays restaurant debuted in London/Covent Garden and became the highest-dollar-volume restaurant in the chain.
The first international joint venture agreement to operate TGI Fridays in Asia was signed.
TGI Fridays grew to 169 restaurants worldwide and celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Booths were added to TGI Fridays restaurants and the interior wood is lightened to brighten the atmosphere.
The first TGI Fridays opened in an airport – Pittsburgh.
Nation’s Restaurant News profiled Carlson. Southwest Editor Ron Ruggless reported, “From its inception in 1965, TGI Fridays celebrated its name, ‘Thank Goodness it’s Friday.’ But the 1980’s changed the market, with romantic affairs yielding to family affairs.”
Nation’s Restaurant News, March 29, 1993
TGI Fridays opened the 300th restaurant, located in Seoul, Korea.
TGI Fridays celebrated 30 years of being the world’s favorite gathering place for food, fun and cheer and opened new restaurants in eight new countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Panama and Switzerland.
Fridays Front Row® Sports Grill opened in Orlando, Florida. Celebrities on hand for the grand opening festivities included supermodel Kathy Ireland, ESPN commentator Chris Berman, football star Vinny Testaverde, and basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Fridays American Bar® opened in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Makati, Philippines.
TGI Fridays restaurant debuted in Idaho – the 45th state for TGI Fridays.
TGI Fridays restaurants opened in ten new countries: Argentina, Cyprus, Honduras, India, Kuwait, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.
Development agreements were signed for 26 new countries: Aruba, Austria, The Bahamas, Bonaire, Costa Rica, Curacao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Jamaica, Macau, Nicaragua, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
For the second consecutive year, Success magazine ranked TGI Fridays Inc. as one of the top 100 franchisors.
Jack Daniel’s Grill® made its national debut.
Scandinavia welcomed the first TGI Fridays restaurant in Stockholm and the first Fridays American Bar in Oslo.
TGI Fridays became the first American casual dining restaurant to open in Moscow, Russia.
The 100th international TGI Fridays restaurant debuted in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the 500th TGI Fridays restaurant opened in Plymouth, Minnesota.
Development agreements were signed with Watami Food Service Co., Ltd. to develop restaurants in Japan and with Compass Group PLC to develop restaurants in Canada, South Africa, Europe and the Asia Pacific.
TGI Fridays restaurants debuted in Bogota, Colombia and Fortizza, Malta.
TGI Fridays restaurants opened in Dublin, Ireland; Budapest, Hungary; Indianapolis International Airport
Fridays Front Row Sports Grill opened at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
TGI Fridays restaurants debuted in two new countries – Iceland and Saudi Arabia.
TGI Fridays website received the “Golden Web Award” from the International Association of Web Masters and Designers.
TGI Fridays received NRN’s MenuMasters Award for “Best Limited Time Offer” for Island Recipes.
TGI Fridays announced a partnership with Atkins Nutritional Approach.
TGI Fridays recognized for beverage innovation by Nation’s Restaurant News at the Nightclub & Bar Show.
TGI Fridays recruiting program recognized at Multi-Unit Food Service Operators Conference (MUFSO) with the prestigious People and Performance Award (PAPA). The PAPA honors multi-unit restaurant chains that excel in their human resources efforts in various areas including innovation, diversity plans, recruitment strategy and service benchmarks.
TGI Fridays celebrated 40 years with a fabulous celebration at its annual Global Leadership Conference – held on Paradise Island, Bahamas at the Atlantis Resort.
TGI Fridays beverage program awarded Cheers magazine’s “Best Spirits Program” award at the Cheers Beverage Conference.
TGI Fridays awarded the EAT and EAR Award for Best TV Advertising Campaign among concepts with sales greater than $500 million.
TGI Fridays USA recognized at the annual People Report Conference with the coveted “Catalyst Award.” The award recognizes a company that has made significant advances in its people practices, and has sustained those results for at least one year.
TGI Fridays was recognized in the 2006 edition of America’s Greatest Brands.
Carlson Restaurants Worldwide was awarded the “2005 HR Service Excellence” award by HR Solutions, Inc. This award recognizes the best human resources departments in North America.
TGI Fridays was awarded the SPIRIT Award by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and Nation’s Restaurant News. The award recognizes companies for their dedication to improving guest satisfaction by improving employee satisfaction.
Right Portion Right Price menu category debuted offering a variety of smaller portion entrees at lower prices all day, every day. The category was an instant success with guests and media, receiving record coverage including hits on ABC Nightline, USA Today, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.
TGI Fridays was honored by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the Best Places to Work in Dallas Ft. Worth for the second consecutive year.
300th International TGI Fridays opened in Christchurch, Barbados.
TGI Fridays honored as one of "Best Companies to Work for in Texas" by Texas Monthly for second consecutive year.
TGI Fridays launched 'Give Me More Stripes®' guest recognition program.
Nick Shepherd was named president and chief executive officer of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide.
Give Me More Stripes reached 3 million members.
TGI Fridays and Americana Group renewed a development agreement to build an additional 30 TGI Fridays restaurants in the Middle East over the next five years.
TGI Fridays announced Ambition 2015, its global strategy aimed at expanding its portfolio of restaurants by 2015.