TGI Fridays sees 'massive white space' in hotels and airports

The bar and grill chain said its hotel outlets do better than traditional stores and are more cost-effective to develop.
TGI Fridays bar
The newest TGI Fridays location, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Hollywood. | Photo courtesy of TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays may have a future in the travel industry. 

The struggling bar and grill chain on Wednesday opened a new restaurant in the Hilton Garden Inn in Hollywood and said that there could be more locations to come in places like hotels, airports and casinos. 

“There is massive white space for TGI Fridays within travel-driven locations, representing an incredible growth opportunity for our brand,” said Chris Devlin, chief development officer for TGI Fridays, in a statement. 

He noted that travelers tend to gravitate toward the familiar Fridays brand while away from home.

Fridays that are attached to hotels see “significantly” higher sales volumes than traditional locations, the company said in a press release. And the recently renovated TGI Fridays at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport has become the highest-grossing airport restaurant in the country.

Nontraditional locations can also be more cost-effective to develop. At the Hilton Garden Inn, TGI Fridays repurposed existing restaurant space at a fraction of the cost and time of opening a streetside store. 

At 4,000 square feet, the restaurant seats 150 guests and includes a full-service bar and outdoor patio. It’s the second TGI Fridays for hotel owner RLJ Lodging Trust, which also owns the Fridays attached to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel near Midway International Airport in Chicago.

All told, TGI Fridays has eight restaurants attached to hotels in the U.S., nine in airports and four in casinos. This latest initiative is focused on converting existing space within hotels, Devlin said in an email.

The nearly 600-unit Fridays is looking for new avenues for growth after closing 36 underperforming locations this year. While the brand has been expanding overseas, its U.S. footprint has shrunk by more than 150 stores since 2019, and systemwide domestic sales fell 18% last year, according to Technomic.

In April, TGI Fridays announced that it was being acquired by a franchisee, U.K.-based Hostmore PLC, for $220 million. 

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