Can TGI Fridays break away from their chain-restaurant stereotype?
TGI Fridays locations across the country will be getting an update soon. Various locations will be renovated, much like the flagship restaurant in Addison. And new menu items have already began making their debuts.
With their headquarters being located in Plano, TGI Fridays (TGIF) locations in Collin County will be seeing these renovations very soon, according to Christopher Vary, senior director of public relations. I meet up with Chris at the TGI Fridays on Beltline in Addison.
Walking in, I am impressed with the updated layout and decor. Rolling garage doors separate the patio from the bar, allowing in lots of natural light. The feel is instantly different than the older locations. Chris and I saddle up at the bar for a few drinks and to try some of the new dishes.
As we wait on drinks, I ask Chris the question: How can TGIF overcome its current reputation as one of those chain restaurants?
Chili’s, Applebee’s and TGI Friday’s
Per every other headline, millennials (along with Gen X and Gen Z) are “killing” restaurants like Chili’s and Applebee’s. And Chris is the first to admit they have an uphill battle.
“Nearly everyone has seen Office Space, and we are clearly the restaurant they spoof in that film,” he says. In the movie, Jennifer Aniston is a waitress who infamously doesn’t wear enough “flair” on her uniform and is constantly reprimanded for it.
Chris then motions to his own t-shirt, emblazoned with “Big Fan of Big Ribs,” and then to the bartenders who are also in similar shirts with different phrases. “We got rid of those uniforms a long time ago. These are much cooler.”
Where are the young people?
Many other businesses have come to the same conclusion as the executives at TGIF: They need to attract younger people. Chris says he wants TGIF to be a place where young people come to meet up for drinks, and where young parents want to bring their family. To do so, they’ve updated their drinks menu, added more appetizers that are smaller and easier to share, and they are eventually making all of their kitchens “scratch kitchens.”
Cheddar’s, another chain restaurant, recently rebranded themselves as Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. A “scratch kitchen” means over 90 percent of the restaurant’s meals are made from hand without any prepackaging and using basic ingredients.
A lot of restaurants already are scratch kitchens, especially local chains or stand alone concepts. These restaurants, like Sixty Vines and Urban Crust, have challenged chain restaurants to update, or likely, die a slow, slow death, like that of Toys R Us and Radio Shack.
I did indulge in the Philly Cheesesteak Eggrolls, which were cheesy and greasy, exactly what you want with its given name. The crispy egg rolls are filled with roast beef, peppers, onions and cheese, served with craft beer-cheese dipping sauce.
The idea of a vegetable sounded nice and different so I tried the brussel sprouts. Tossed in Lemon Soy Vinaigrette and topped with roasted onions, crispy croutons and cotija cheese, these veggies were great.
As vegetarian options go, The Beyond Meat Cheeseburger, isn’t bad.
The Toasted S’mores Extreme Shake is made with all-natural ice cream mix, OREO® cookies, toasted marshmallows, graham cracker, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, whipped cream. I get it Boozy with Smirnoff Vanilla and brandy. It’s delicious, it’s boozy, and it looks good on Instagram.