TGI Friday's closes 36 stores, sells more to Ray Blanchette

Blanchette, a former CEO of the chain, will operate the stores as a franchisee. The price he paid was not disclosed.
TGI Friday's
TGI Friday's says its closures are part of its "era of transformation." | Photo: Shutterstock

TGI Friday’s has closed 36 U.S. restaurants and agreed to sell eight more to former CEO Ray Blanchette in the latest phase of what it’s calling “an era of transformation.”

The moves follow the appointments late last year of Weldon Spangler as CEO and Ray Risley to U.S. president and COO. Spangler was the fourth person to serve as CEO in 2023. The rapid-fire changes began in May when Blanchette parted with the company, surrendering the post on interim basis to Rohit Manocha, co-founder of the casual-dining chain’s principal investor, TriArtisan Capital Advisor.

Manocha relinquished the post in late August to Brandon Coleman III, who resigned after two months, citing unspecified personal reasons. Spangler took over in October.

The price paid by Blanchette for the eight Fridays stores was not revealed. All of the units are in the Northeast, according to the chain. The announcement indicates that Blanchette will continue to operate the restaurants, all formerly corporate units, as franchised Fridays stores.

Blanchette has also served as CEO of Ruby Tuesday, Au Bon Pain and Ignite Restaurant Group, the parent at the time of Joe’s Crab Shack, Brick House Tavern and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

The 36 shuttered stores, which Fridays described as “underperforming,” were located in markets strewn across the U.S. Local news reports indicated that a number were in Massachusetts.

Fridays said that 1,000 of the employees who were displaced by the closings, or 80% of the combined payrolls, have been offered transfers to other stores.

"Our top priority has always been delivering a superior experience for each and every TGI Fridays guest, and we've identified opportunities to optimize and streamline our operations to ensure we are best positioned to meet – and exceed – on that brand promise," Risley said in a prepared statement. "By strengthening our franchise model and closing underperforming stores, we are creating an unprecedented opportunity for Fridays to drive forward its vision for the future." 

The chain has taken a number of steps to reinvigorate itself, from adding sushi to expanding its appetizer selection, launching virtual concepts and experimenting with a scaled-down riff called Fridays on the Fly.

The closings leave Fridays with about 650 restaurants in 51 countries.

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