TGI Fridays CEO Ray Blanchette steps down

He led the brand for five years. Rohit Manocha, chairman of Fridays’ biggest shareholder, will take over on an interim basis.
TGI Fridays
TGI Fridays struggled during Blanchette's tenure. / Photo: Shutterstock

TGI Fridays CEO Ray Blanchette is stepping down after five years leading the chain.

He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by Rohit Manocha, co-founder and chairman of Fridays’ biggest shareholder, TriArtisan Capital Partners.

The 700-unit casual-dining chain has struggled over the past five years. Between 2017 and 2022, total global sales fell more than 26% and global units were down 24%, according to Technomic Ignite data. Things improved last year, with sales up 4.6% worldwide. But they were still down 2% in the U.S.

The Dallas-based chain has more stores overseas—381—than it does in the U.S.—292—and has focused on international development under Blanchette. In September, it announced plans to open 75 restaurants in South and Southeast Asia over the next 10 years.

It is now entering a “new phase” that will focus on growth and “creating relevance with today’s consumers,” Manocha said in a statement. 

“Under Ray's leadership, the brand's performance has improved, and he built a strong operating culture that will carry us forward as we pursue new territories,” he said. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of all of our team members, Fridays is well positioned for success as we look toward the future.”

The company has hired an executive search firm to find the brand’s next CEO.

Blanchette began his career at Fridays, working in a variety of positions before rising to COO of the brand’s owner, Carlson Restaurants Worldwide.

He left Carlson in 2007 to found Ignite Restaurant Group, a holding company for casual-dining brands including Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern. He was replaced as CEO in 2015 and moved to Au Bon Pain and then Ruby Tuesday. 

After just nine months as CEO of Ruby Tuesday, he joined Fridays, bringing his career full circle.

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