In here, it’s always Friday.
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.
How much money is used to open the first restaurant
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.
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.
The former TGI Fridays logo used until 2013. It is still used in older locations.
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.
The company became privately held again in 1989. The focus was then switched from singles to families.
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