EXCLUSIVE: TGI Fridays overhauls kitchen practice to turn brand around

TGI Fridays Newcastle

The CEO of restaurant chain TGI Fridays has described how new kitchen initiatives implemented at all of its sites have turned the brand’s fortunes around.

Karen Forrester explained how last year recipes were rigorously retested and strict grab testing was brought into every kitchen, in addition to its ‘sexy station’ initiative, after sales dipped.

Forrester said: “We tested and retested specifications and we looked at whose station was working like clockwork, who had it nailed and who was leading the team – we called it ‘sexy station’ and awarded the chefs. We grab tested pasta, vegetables, fries, cheese, guacamole – everything that these guys should be doing every day but we wanted to make a big show of it.”

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TGI Fridays has also pledged to reduce its menu size to improve the quality of its product. It now has 66 items, down from around 80 a few years ago.

The kitchen initiatives were part of a huge nationwide drive to improve customer service and staff motivation.

After a difficult trading period, the brand returned to growth in September last year after the initiatives were introduced in February.

Forrester, speaking at The Casual Dining Show, commented: “Not only did we go back into growth in September but we’ve continued to grow every single week since then. We went into this year with great momentum and as I stand here today we’re in 6% like for like sales growth.”

Further to this, Forrester outlines how between September and this month, 20 TGI Fridays restaurants have beaten their all time sales record, with one of them beating it twice already in that time.

TGI Fridays however, is expected to take a sizeable hit this year in London as reports claim it will be one of the worst affected restaurant chains from the business rates revaluation in April.

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