Why TGIF’s Abruptly Closed 36 Locations (and Where To Go Instead)

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TGI Fridays sold eight restos to their former CEO, and shut down 36 casual dining spots across the country.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Immortalized in movies from "Cocktail" to "Office Space" and countless TV shows, TGI Fridays has been part of American culture for years. It's the place for first dates, Mother's Day, family nights out, breakups, and proposals. And then it wasn't. On January 4th, the Dallas-based restaurant chain's press release stated it closed 36 underperforming restaurants nationwide. Also mentioned in that release was a sale of eight corporate-owned Northeast TGI Fridays to the brand's previous CEO, Ray Blanchette.

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TGIF's journey 

Before the closure, there were 233 U.S.-based restaurants. According to Nation's Restaurant News, that includes 104 corporate restaurants and 129 franchises. While TGI Fridays closed 36 stores, they did offer more than 1,000 transfer opportunities to employees impacted by the abrupt change.

This announcement comes as a surprise to restaurant fans and restauranteurs alike. TGIF has been touting improving the restaurants and their offerings for many months. On Halloween, they named Weldon Spangler, a long-time board member, their new CEO. In that press release, they stated, "Mr. Spangler will lead the implementation of the grown plan to revitalize the iconic brand on a global scale."

More news followed in early December 2023. The corporation sent out a notice that TGI Fridays hired two top-level executives, Ray Risley as U.S. President and Nik Rupp as President of International Markets and CFO. Within that notice, it was proclaimed that they were continuing to "implement a growth plan." That press release also stated that the firm was updating its "legacy menu offerings" and released a new bar menu.

With all the growth planned and an updated menu, the news that 36 restaurants have been wiped off the map hit its fans hard. TGI Fridays are often cornerstone restaurants in malls and upscale shopping plazas. Visiting the restaurant often led to a stroll through the shops and vice versa. Closing 36 stores nationwide can dampen foot traffic to their neighboring stores.

Why TGIFs closed their stores

Between the new hires and a growth plan, it seems counterproductive to close restaurants. But they did. TGI Fridays, like restaurants around the county, have felt the impact of the pandemic lockdown. During the lockdown and immediately after reopening, many restaurants closed. After reopening, restaurants, retail stores, and other organizations have needed help with staffing.

According to the Society of Human Resources, a long-term labor shortage will occur. It's a combination of people moving into different fields, an aging population planning for retirement, and a shortage of workers between the ages of 15 and 65. According to a report on the impact of COVID-19 on dining out by Global Data, 45% of the survey's participants are "extremely, or quite concerned about eating out at restaurants because of COVID-19 risk."

So, between a staffing shortage and a change in dining out habits, TGI Fridays, like other restaurants across the country, had to take critical measures to make extra money.

Where they closed their stores

Most closed TGI Fridays restaurants were in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. See the complete list of closed restaurants below, organized by state. 

California

• Fresno, California: 1077 E. Herndon Ave. 93720

Colorado

• Denver, Colorado: 8104 Northfield Blvd., 80238

• Longmont, Colorado: 125 Ken Pratt Blvd., 80501

Connecticut

• Newington, Connecticut: 3025 Berlin Turnpike, 06111

Florida

• Ormond Beach, Florida: 24 Ocean Shore Blvd., 32176

• Royal Palm, Florida: 580 N. State Road 7, 33411

Massachusetts

• Berlin/Marlborough, Massachusetts: 601 Donald Lynch Blvd., 01752

• Danvers, Massachusetts: 49 Newbury St., 01923

• Dedham, Massachusetts: 750 Providence Hwy, 02026

• Mansfield, Massachusetts: 280 School St., Suite A100, 02048

• North Attleboro, Massachusetts: 1385 S. Washington St., 02760

• Seekonk, Massachusetts: 1105 Fall River Ave., 02771

Maryland

• Bowie, Maryland: 15207 Major Lansdale Blvd., 20716

• Columbia, Maryland: 8330 Benson Dr., 21045

New Hampshire

• Amherst, New Hampshire: 124 NH-101A Ste. 28, 03031

New Jersey

• Eatontown, New Jersey: 180 NJ-35 Ste. 6000, 07724

• Hacksensack, New Jersey: 411 Hackensack Ave., 07601

• Iselin/Woodbridge, New Jersey: 401 Gill Ln., 08830

• Malrton, New Jersey: 970 Rte. 73 N., 08053

• Princeton, New Jersey: 3535 US-1 #275, 08540

• Springfield, New Jersey: 40 US-22, 07081

• Wayne Town Center, New Jersey: 71 Route 23 South, 07470

New York

• Albany, New York: 1475 Western Ave, 12203

• Bay Shore, New York: 1725 Sunrise Hwy., 11706

• Hauppauge, New York: 3045 Expy Drive N., 11749

• Massapequa, New York: 5204 Sunrise Hwy., 11762

• Woodbury Township, New York: 5 Centre Dr., 10917

Pennsylvania

• Willow Grove, Pennsylvania: 2500 W. Moreland Rd., 19090

Texas

• Corpus Christi, Texas: 5217 S. Padre Island Dr., 78411

• Houston Almeda, Texas: 12895 Gulf Fwy., 77034

• North Arlington, Texas: 1524 N. Collins Street, 76011

• The Woodlands, Texas: 1105 Lake Woodlands Dr., 77380

Virginia

• Fredericksburg, Virginia: 1160 Carl D Silver Pkwy, 22401

• Manassas, Virginia: 7401 Sudley Rd., 20109

• Springfield, Virginia: 6751-B Frontier Dr., 22150

• Woodbridge/Potomac Mills, Virginia: 13237 Worth Ave., 22192

Foods that will be missed

TGI Fridays created a multi-page menu that contained more delicious dishes than "never, ever order that again" items. Out of all their offerings, a few items stand out. 

For example, their Loaded Potato Skins appetizer may have been a cholesterol nightmare, but it was tasty. The skins were oozing with cheese, sour cream, and butter and finished with loads of tasty, crunchy bacon bits. These hefty (it weighed a lot) crunchy potato skins were so filling that they could replace an entrée.

Steak lovers adored their Mushroom Steak and Mushroom entrée. It was a lush, buttery steak smothered with more mushrooms than one could count. Another hit was, when you parsed it out, weird, but TGI Fridays Blackened Chicken Alfredo Pasta was a trendy dinner item.

Where to go instead

For fans of TGI Fridays, whose local outlet has closed, there are other casual dining options near you. Many national chain restaurants have similar menus and vibes.

  • Applebees: The menu is like TGI Fridays; you might think the chains are related. The big difference is that Applebees leans towards a rustic interior design.
  • Texas Roadhouse: This national chain positions itself as a steakhouse, but the vast menu has something for everyone.
  • Ruby Tuesday: A cross between TGI Fridays and Applebees, Ruby Tuesday has the same semi-upscale feel of TGI Fridays with the ease of an Applebees.
  • Chili’s: Claims it mixes a family restaurant and a casual dining spot. Just like TGI Fridays, they have massive portions and massive cocktails.

Bottom line

While TGI Fridays has closed locations nationwide, don’t count them out yet. The corporation has revitalized the menu and is concentrating on stores performing at or overperforming their quota. Like many companies in this economic climate, they sometimes have to take a few steps back before moving forward.


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Author Details

PJ Gach PJ Gach is a professional writer who has over a decade of experience covering the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle beats. Her writing credits include Shop TODAY, GoBankingRates, SPY.com, Reader's Digest, The New York Post, Rolling Stone, and more.