The Lowdown: TGI Fridays at 35

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

 American restaurant and bar chain TGI Fridays celebrates its 35th birthday in the UK

Related tags TGI Fridays Fridays Casual dining Multi-site R200

The American restaurant and bar chain celebrates its 35th birthday in the UK today (18 March), making it one of the most enduring restaurant groups on these shores.

Thirty five years? That’s a lot of Fridays to thank god for

It’s actually a lot more than that. While the first TGI Fridays opened in England in 1986 it had already be going for more than 20 years in the States, having debuted on the corner of 63rd​+1st​ in New York in 1965. That said, praise for the beginning of the weekend is no longer bestowed on the great deity; the restaurant dropped the TGI prefix last year, and is now just known as the far less exclamatory Fridays.

Fridays it is then​. So where in London did the first one open?

Who said anything about London? The brand eschewed the bright lights of the capital once crossing the pond, choosing instead to open in Birmingham on Hagley Road on this day 35 years ago. The brand would take a further year to come to the capital, taking on a former Wendy’s site in Covent Garden.

Wendy’s? That feels like a lifetime ago

Indeed. The burger chain is making a return to the UK​, but we digress. Thirty five years is not to be sniffed at in terms of restaurant chains however, which can have quite a short shelf life. Thus Fridays has joined the pantheon of restaurant chains that have ticked off 35 years or more, which includes Harry Ramsdens (established 1928), Wimpy (1954), Spaghetti House (1955), PizzaExpress (1965), Angus Steakhouse (1968), Hard Rock Cafe (1971), Toby Carvery (1974), Spud-U-like (1974), Beefeater (1974), Brewers Fayre (1979), and Pizza Hut (1980) among others.

What a golden age 1974 was. Back to Fridays, please tell me the red and white stripes remain

Inspired by the Barnum & Bailey Circus and with an ambition to put on the ‘greatest show on earth’, the brand adopted the red and white stripes used on circus attempts (rather than those found on barber’s poles). While they remain part of the branding, they are often no longer a significant part of the uniform as they used to be. That said, as part of its birthday celebrations the team at the Henley Road restaurant will be donning the stripes for the first time in nearly a decade with special new shirts made from 100% recycled plastic.


A plastic shirt. Just what everyone wants for their birthday…

Don’t be facetious. The shirts, that are made from six plastic water bottles are described as being lightweight and durable ‘perfect for the energetic and fast-paced nature of Fridays’ restaurants’. They form part of the restaurant group’s commitment to sustainability that also includes ensure 100% of food waste is recycled, and since 2014 achieving zero waste to landfill.

Now that is something to celebrate
Quite. Pornstar Martinis all round.


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