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May 22, 2024

TGI Fridays Closes 36 Underperforming Restaurants Amid Changing Consumer Tastes

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Written by AiBot

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Jan 5, 2024

TGI Fridays, the iconic American casual dining chain known for its burgers, ribs, and signature drinks, has abruptly closed 36 underperforming company-owned restaurants across the United States. The closures come as part of a revamp strategy focused on shifting consumer preferences and strengthening the financial future of the company.

Widespread Closures Across 20 States

The sweeping closures span 20 states and include both urban and suburban locations. Major metro areas impacted include New York City, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington D.C., Boston, and Los Angeles.

A full list of closed locations is provided below:

City State
Glendale CA
Lakewood CA
Topanga CA
Milford CT
Manchester CT
Newington CT
Washington D.C. DC
Wilmington DE
Miami FL
Orlando FL
Atlanta GA
Honolulu HI
Boise ID
Vernon Hills IL
Lombard IL
Schaumburg IL
Indianapolis IN
Overland Park KS
Louisville KY
Metairie LA
Frederick MD
Towson MD
Methuen MA
Peabody MA
Seekonk MA
Plymouth MA
Livonia MI
Minneapolis MN
Saint Louis MO
Raleigh NC
Fargo ND
Middlesex NJ
Paramus NJ
Springfield NJ
Albany NY
Bay Shore NY
Carle Place NY
Elmsford NY
Huntington Station NY
Newburgh NY
Rochester NY
Columbus OH
Oklahoma City OK
Happy Valley OR
Exton PA
Bensalem PA
Pittsburgh PA
North Wales PA
Warwick RI
Columbia SC
Chattanooga TN
Knoxville TN
Dallas TX
Houston TX
Longmont CO
Salt Lake City UT
Woodbridge VA
Federal Way WA
Vandergrift PA

Efforts to Optimize Operations

In a press release, TGI Fridays cited changing consumer trends and a need to optimize operations for long term success as a key driver behind the closures. President Ray Blanchette also announced the sale of eight TGI Fridays restaurants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut to TriSpan, a hospitality group with stakes in several other Fridays locations.

The franchise is planning major investments into new innovative store designs along with a revamped menu and bar experience going into 2024. Locations that no longer fit the needs of patrons today are being shed to make way for locations better suited to compete for business. The company hopes these efforts will resonate with guests seeking great drinks, shareable apps and entrees in a vibrant atmosphere.

Financial Troubles Precede Closures

In recent years, TGI Fridays has struggled amid a changing restaurant landscape increasingly focused on fast casual dining, takeout and delivery. Guest traffic at TGI Fridays has declined and sales growth has been sluggish compared to competitors. Franchisees have complained of high royalties and an inability to turn sufficient profits on declining volumes.

In 2019, the chain’s UK business collapsed into administration leading to closures of over 20 locations. And in 2021, TGI Fridays’ largest U.S. franchisee filed for bankruptcy and abruptly closed 32 restaurants it operated.

While company owned U.S. stores have fared better, performance has still lagged leading competitors like Buffalo Wild Wings, Applebee’s and Chili’s. The series of abrupt closures appears to be the brand’s latest move to quickly eliminate underperforming units and strengthen its position.

Employees and Patrons React to Surprise Closures

The unannounced restaurant closures came as an unwelcome surprise to both employees and loyal patrons.

Staff at closed locations report showing up to work only to find notices taped to the front doors informing them they no longer had jobs. In one case in Massachusetts, night manager Wendi Liebel arrived at her location in Seekonk to discover she and the rest of her crew had been laid off without any advance notice at all.

“I cried. Most of these people had worked from 15 to almost 30 years here. It’s not just a TGI Friday’s, it was our TGI Fridays,” she said.

Customers also expressed disappointment on seeing signage indicating their favorite location had shut down for good seemingly out of the blue.

“I drove over 10 miles to have lunch at my favorite TGI Fridays only to find it permanently closed with no warning,” commented Joanne Davis of Newington, CT.”Now I have to find a new go-to place.”

While economic conditions may have necessitated the closures from a business perspective, the lack of communication came across as insensitive and cold to those most impacted.

What Happens to Closed Locations Now

With 36 TGI Fridays abruptly shuttering across 20 states, there are now many empty retail spaces looking for new tenants. Restaurant industry analysts expect most suburban strip mall locations will eventually become home to new restaurant concepts. However, researchers predict at least 1 in 4 could remain vacant for a year or longer given declining demand for brick-and-mortar retail footage.

Urban storefronts in highly trafficked cities like New York and Los Angeles could more easily find new restaurant operators according to real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. However prime locations in smaller markets may struggle. The firm also warns landlords may need to lower rents previously locked in during better economic conditions in order to attract replacement tenants.

Projected Re-Occupancy Rate by Closed Location Type

Location Type Likely Re-Occupancy Timeframe
Urban Strip Malls 4-8 months
Suburban Strip Malls 8-18 months
Urban Street retail 4-8 months
Suburban Street Retail 12+ months

On the other hand, some suburban and smaller market locations recently vacated by other struggling chains have already remained unoccupied for 2-4 years. It remains to be seen how easy it will be to fill thousands of square feet that formally housed a dated Fridays concept.

What’s Next for TGI Fridays

While 36 locations have closed, TGI Fridays still has over 300 restaurants globally across the United States and 30 other countries. And the brand does plan to open new remodeled locations in select markets that better fit the evolving consumer preferences. So while your hometown Fridays may have disappeared, the chain still sees a future meeting customer needs in key regions.

Analysts say TGI Fridays will focus expansion in densely populated areas willing to pay higher prices for the new modern experience. Menu changes expected focus on shareable appetizers and craft cocktails over fried food entrees. New outlets feature more open kitchens, deliveries, grab and go options with less fixed seating.

The coming year will prove critical for the iconic brand with a 50 year history in America as it tries to turn around sluggish financial results and stay relevant for its longtime customer base. Expect more locations to close in the coming year while a few revamped, smaller footprint stores appear in select trendy neighborhoods.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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