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TGI Fridays to expand use of virtual brands

The casual-dining chain is deepening its partnership with C3, bringing more of its concepts to more restaurants.
TGI Fridays sign
TGI Fridays is bringing C3's Krispy Rice, Kumi and Stonie Bowls brands to more restaurants. / Photograph: Shutterstock

TGI Fridays is doubling down on virtual brands. 

The casual-dining chain said Tuesday that it’s expanding its partnership with digital restaurant company C3 to use more of its brands in more of its restaurants after a successful test.

In the fall, TGI Fridays began offering a C3-owned sushi concept, Krispy Rice, as a delivery-only option at some restaurants in California and Maryland. Early returns were promising: The chain said it expected Krispy Rice to add up to $1 million in sales at each restaurant.

Now it’s working with C3 to bring on two additional concepts: a nori taco and sushi concept called Kumi and a new Asian bowl brand, Stonie Bowls. It’s also expanding the C3 brands to new markets for a total of 27 restaurants in seven states.

“The partnership between TGI Fridays and C3 is a win for all sides,” said Rohit Manocha, co-founder of Fridays owner TrisArtisan. “Through this partnership, we are driving added revenue streams, while at the same time providing our guests with innovative and diverse experiences and meal options.”

TriArtisan, which also owns Hooters, took a $10 million stake in C3 last August.

More: How C3 built a restaurant group for the digital age.

Delivery-only brands caught on at sit-down chains during the pandemic as a way to squeeze more revenue out of existing kitchens when dine-in business slowed. While some chains, such as Chili’s and Applebee’s, developed their own virtual brands, TGI Fridays went the partnership route with C3.

C3, founded by restaurateur and businessman Sam Nazarian, has spent about five years amassing a collection of more than 40 limited-service concepts. The company operates some brick-and-mortar restaurants but also licenses its brands for others to use as online-only add-ons. It has focused in particular on brands designed to appeal to a younger audience.

“As the virtual restaurant industry continues to innovate, we are thrilled to partner with America’s favorite restaurant brand TGI Fridays, complementing our virtual restaurant brands with Fridays popularity and scale to provide for added revenue opportunities,” Nazarian said in a statement. “The sky is the limit with our work together and as we plan to expand our partnership across the country.”

With more than 700 restaurants in 54 countries, TGI Fridays presents a big growth opportunity for C3, which said it currently has 800 digital brand locations and about 1,000 more in the works.

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