TGI Fridays, the popular American casual dining restaurant chain, abruptly closed 6 of its Massachusetts locations this week. The closures left hundreds of employees jobless without any prior notice.
The 6 Massachusetts TGI Fridays locations that have been shut down permanently include:
- North Attleboro
In addition, 8 other TGI Fridays restaurants across the Northeast were sold to a longtime stakeholder and former CEO of the brand.
This means that in total, nearly half of the TGI Fridays spots across Massachusetts have now closed for good.
Employees Blindsided by Closures
The sudden closures came as a shock to the TGI Fridays staff members.
Over 100 employees lost their jobs without any advance warning or severance pay. Workers only found out about the restaurant closings when they showed up for their usual shifts and found notices taped to the front doors early this week.
|Liberty Tree Mall
|Franklin Shopping Center
|Emerald Square Mall
|Ten Pin Eatery
“I showed up ready to bartend my lunch shift today. Instead, I was given a letter that the location is closed for good. No job. No warning,” said 29-year-old Alexis C., an employee at the Marlborough outlet for over 2 years.
Many staffers said they had no idea that the restaurants were struggling or on the verge of going out of business.
Financial Troubles Lead to Closures
TGI Fridays cited growing losses and lack of profitability as the key reasons for shuttering these Massachusetts spots so abruptly.
The company said that these locations were “underperforming” for the past few years. Staffing issues and supply chain disruptions during the pandemic also exacerbated losses recently.
“Closing restaurants is always an incredibly difficult decision, but sometimes necessary as we work to strengthen our overall business,” TGI Fridays said in a statement.
Industry analysts pointed out that casual dining brands like Fridays faced immense competition from cheaper fast food chains as well as upscale establishments in recent years. This led to an erosion in sales even before COVID-19 wreaked havoc.
Most of the closed TGI Fridays were in older shopping malls or plazas which have seen declining foot traffic as consumers move online for shopping and food delivery.
What’s Next for Impacted Locations and Staff
It is currently unclear what could move into the shuttered TGI Fridays spaces which tend to be large-format family style restaurants.
Some real estate experts predict that experiential retail like movie theaters or entertainment arcades may take over these abandoned sites as shopping centers try to drive more visitors.
As for the affected Fridays employees, the company said it will offer “transition support” and opportunities to interview for jobs at nearby outlets.
However, workers remain frustrated and nervous about finding new employment quickly enough to avoid financial disaster.
Many legislators and activists are also calling for stronger business closure laws to require advance notice and severance pay for sudden shutdowns like this. They say vulnerable hourly wage earners should not be left hanging from day to day.
“These big corporations get bailouts and tax cuts when they struggle. But they offer no help or safety net to the low-level staff that keep operations running,” said Boston city councilor Tanya Walsh.
She plans to introduce a new “Worker Protection Act” bill soon requiring 60-90 day shutdown notices and mandatory severance.
While other TGI Fridays branches remain open for now, industry experts say more locations could be at risk if sales do not rebound strongly. The coming weeks will determine if the brand can turn itself around or if additional outlets start closing across America.
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