TGI Fridays unveils 3-course meal deal as value wars continue

Fridays is the latest full-service chain to add a bargain offer amid fears that inflation-weary customers are trading down.
Fridays' new promotion offers an appetizer, two entrees and dessert starting at $28. / Photo courtesy of TGI Fridays
Fridays' new promotion offers an appetizer, two entrees and dessert starting at $28. / Photo courtesy of TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays is courting couples looking for an affordable night out.

The casual-dining chain on Wednesday unveiled a new three-course meal deal for two that promises lots of food at a bargain price. The Fridays Feasts come with an appetizer, two entrees and dessert for $28, $38 or $48. 

Fridays joins a growing list of sit-down chains promoting value amid fears that inflation-weary guests could be shifting to lower-priced options.

“With Valentine's Day right around the corner, this delicious three-course meal is the perfect way to celebrate with someone you love without breaking the bank,” CMO Brandon Coleman said in a statement. 

Dining out, along with just about everything else, has gotten more expensive over the past year, and particularly at sit-down restaurants. Full-service menu prices were 8.2% higher in December than they were a year ago, compared to 6.6% for quick service, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Restaurants have had to raise prices to keep up with their own soaring costs for food and labor. And while many have said they’ve seen little pushback from customers, a number of full-service chains are adding value options in hopes of appealing to more price-sensitive guests. 

Olive Garden, for instance, brought back its popular Never-Ending Pasta Bowl deal. Denny’s introduced a $5.99 All Day Value Menu in September, while Red Robin pushed a $10 Gourmet Meal Deal. Red Lobster ran an endless shrimp promotion in the fall and even axed some of its priciest items.

“Consumers, they are looking for the value proposition,” said Ludovic Regis Henri Garnier, CEO of Red Lobster owner Thai Union Group, during an earnings call in November. “So we are taking away from the menu some very expensive items, and we're trying something which is attractive also for the customers.” His comments are courtesy of a transcript from financial services site Sentieo.

For many, the strategy has paid off. At Olive Garden, sales and traffic improved significantly during the seven-week Pasta Bowl promotion. Denny’s value offering has also proven popular: Bargain options accounted for more than 14% of its third-quarter sales and aligned with a boost in traffic, CEO Kelli Valade said during an earnings call in November.

“We probably brought a few more guests in,” Valade said, according to a Sentieo transcript. “We saw that change pretty quickly, and we're pleased with that.”

At the same time, brands have been careful not to give away too much. Some have adopted a so-called barbell strategy, pairing lower-priced options with more premium, limited-time offers.

At Denny’s, “we were able to balance guest check average by merchandising in-restaurant with higher menu, higher margin play,” Valade said. 

Red Robin, meanwhile, offset its $10 burger deal with a pair of limited-time Cheese Lovers burgers priced at $15.99.

“How do [customers] want to spend whatever discretionary income they have?” former CEO Paul Murphy said in explaining the strategy in June.

TGI Fridays’ offer takes a similar approach by offering a variety of items and price tiers, with an emphasis on abundance. 

Guests get their pick of an appetizer—Mozzarella Sticks, Pan-Seared Pot Stickers, Spinach and Artichoke Dip or Loaded Southwest Potato Twists—and two entrees from three tiers:

  • Feast Tier ($28): Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken, Cheeseburger or Caesar Salad with Chicken.
  • Feastier Tier ($38): Fridays Signature Whiskey-Glazed Burger, Fried Shrimp, Million Dollar Cobb with Chicken or Cajun Shrimp & Chicken Pasta.
  • Feastiest Tier ($48): Fridays Big Ribs with choice of sauce, Sizzling Whiskey-Glazed Flat Iron Steak, Crispy Whiskey Combo or Twin Lobster Tails.

Dessert is the Brownie Obsession, a chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge, caramel sauce and chopped walnuts. The deal is available for a limited time.

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