Carlson Restaurants Worldwide (CRW) has a lot of Friday's for which to be thankful. A leader in full-service restaurants, the company operates and franchises more than 900 T.G.I. Friday's casual dining locations across the US and in about 60 other countries. The restaurant chain offers a menu featuring beef, chicken, and seafood entrees along with a selection of popular appetizers. About 300 T.G.I. Friday's units are company-owned while the rest are franchised. The company also operates Pick Up Stix, an Asian-themed fast-casual chain with more than 90 locations in California, Nevada, and Arizona. CRW is a subsidiary of travel and leisure conglomerate Carlson Companies.
Like most other casual dining chains, T.G.I. Friday's has developed a distinctive look and feel in order to distinguish itself in the crowded field of competitors. The chain is designed to typify the American bar and grill and makes an appeal to the 9-to-5 workday crowd with the tag line, "In here, it's always Friday." A pioneer in the casual dining segment, the first T.G.I. Friday's opened in New York City in 1965. The chain helped popularize such menu items as the Long Island Iced Tea and potato skins.
CRW has built the Friday's chain mostly through franchising, which allows the company to have restaurants in so many different markets without the expense of owning and operating all of them. Local operators, including big franchisee groups such as The Bistro Group and The Briad Group, pay the company royalties for the right to use the Friday's name and other intellectual property. Typically, franchisees also agree to uphold standards for food and service quality.
The recession cut into the casual dining segment during recent years as consumers reined in spending on luxury items including dining and leisure. T.G.I. Friday's responded with menu price cuts and increased marketing efforts to try and attract new customers. The chain also introduced new menu items, including several new varieties of hamburgers and other sandwiches.
Nick Shepherd was tapped as CEO early in 2009 to replace Richard Snead who retired. Shepherd previously served as CEO at Sagittarius Brands (later Del Taco Holdings). Snead had been head of Carlson's dining unit since 2002. – less