Not really sure what has happened to TGI Fridays, but it has become, what I would refer to as, institutional food. Nothing particularly good and the only thing that seems to stand out is the poor service and inadequate staff. The last several visits to our local TGI begins with a greeting at the host/hostess stand that is on the same plane as one might receive at the local funeral home. After which, we are seated by a dolt who escorts us past scores of very accommodating tables, which are vacant, to seat us either by the kitchen, or at a table that is configured as a booth on one side and chairs on the other. The reason for this is to seat us in a table where there is an active server, however we often find that the server has been over committed and does not have the bandwidth to cover another seating.
Our recent visits have several common denominators: First, the staff is not proactive, which means we have to request everything from flatware, to napkins, to drink refills, removing unused/used glasses, appetizer plates, serving dishes, etc.; Second, the food... warm and mediocre-shrimp that is over cooked and stuck to the shell, kids burgers with an over toasted bun, on a kids meal, no less! Most kids are missing teeth; why not serve a kid's meal burger on a nice soft bun? Why are the condiments so inaccessible? Perhaps, the answer lies in the fact that it allows the food to cool further, while we await the twice requested condiment. Third, we expect more. Fridays used to be FUN! What happened? We could tolerate a few miscues if the atmosphere was as advertised, or even better yet, like it used to be. I remember a time where, no matter where you went, Fridays was consistent and fun. I am not suggesting that it was be the be all and end all, but rather an enjoyable, festive and GOOD place to dine and hang out.
When I was in college, there was a Fridays just a few miles form campus and we went there a couple times per week. Did it just get too big? Is it difficult to find good personnel? Or, is it more profitable to understaff, provide lackluster food, a tired ambiance and turn a table quickly? How about this... Provide a happy greeter that welcomes you, gets you seated and initiates a process where the CUSTOMER is treated as a valuable guest. The process of doing this would create a repeat clientele. Be proactive and sell the customer something that drives revenue and pleases the customer need. Believe it, or not, but you can actually run a profitable business by supplying a customer need. Instead, what happens is, under service, over charge and retain a limited and infrequent customer base; which, of course leads to further limited staff, inexperienced help and a further disillusioned customer base.
Let's get back to the basics, guys and gals. There was something that TGI Fridays was doing right, which made it profitable and supplied the resources to build out new markets (probably to the extent that it was over committed, but let's not digress) and I recall that time in Fridays timeline. What would it take to peel back the layers of corporate excrement and get back to the core business that built the Fridays empire.
My kids often watch a SpongeBob Squarepants episode where the Krusty Krab is purchased by a restaurant chain called Crabby O' Mondays. Red and white stripes and manufactured food with lots of marketing and no substance. Sound familiar?
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