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TGI Fridays to Close 36 Restaurants Across the U.S.—Is the Chain in Trouble?

Some TGI Fridays customers will have to find a new go-to chain.

Some TGI Fridays regulars will soon have to find a different restaurant where they can score their loaded potato skins and whiskey-glazed burgers.

The casual dining brand announced on Jan. 3 that it will close a whopping 36 "underperforming" restaurants in the United States. A release on the closures did not specify exactly which locations will be shuttered, but did say that they're located in select markets across the country. 

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More than 1,000 employees from the closing locations will have the opportunity to transfer. That accounts for more than 80% of the total workers impacted by the closures, TGI Fridays said.

The news of these closures comes after a few tumultuous years for the chain. Former CEO Ray Blanchette revealed in May 2020 that they expected to permanently close up to 20% of their American locations due to declines in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional locations have closed in the years since, causing TGI Fridays' restaurants in the country to dwindle.

tgi fridays
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

The chain was operating 386 United States locations in May 2020, per Bloomberg, but that total had shrunk to about 270 before the latest spate of closures, CNN reported.

There has also been a recent string of major leadership changes at TGI Fridays. Blanchette stepped down as CEO in May after holding the post for five years. Rohit Manocha, co-founder of TGI Friday's lead investor, TriArtisan Capital Advisor, temporarily served as interim CEO before Brandon Coleman III took over in AugustColeman abruptly resigned for "personal reasons" just a couple of months later and was succeeded by longtime TGI Fridays board member Weldon Spangler.

Despite the new closures and revolving door of CEOs, the chain has been working to revitalize itself over the past year. It expanded a partnership with Krispy Rice in October 2023, adding food from the sushi concept to the menu at more than 140 TGI Fridays locations. Throughout 2023, it also unveiled a customizable ​​Grilled & Sauced menu, revamped its appetizer selection, and reimagined its reward program.

Looking forward, U.S. President and COO Ray Risley believes that eliminating the 36 struggling restaurants will help the chain continue to improve as a whole.

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"Our top priority has always been delivering a superior experience for each and every TGI Fridays guest, and we've identified opportunities to optimize and streamline our operations to ensure we are best positioned to meet – and exceed – on that brand promise," Risley said in a statement. "By strengthening our franchise model and closing underperforming stores, we are creating an unprecedented opportunity for Fridays to drive forward its vision for the future."

In other TGI Fridays news, the company also announced on Jan. 3 that Blanchette is buying eight restaurants in the Northeast that were previously corporate-owned. Once the sale is finalized, "Blanchette will lead the locations into a new phase of revitalization," the announcement said.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe