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Summer of Fridays

fridaysTGI Fridays is deploying a "food truck tour" as part of "an overhaul of the chain’s decor and a new menu," reports Andrew Adam Newman in The New York Times (5/23/14). The trucks are meant both to reach a younger audience as well as convey that the chain had embraced a "handcrafted" approach, that it no longer serves frozen food and its "vegetables are cut at the restaurant." The new decor is intended to give TGI Fridays "more of the feel of a local bar" and ditch its ’80s-era reputation for "kitschy memorabilia."

"We didn’t want to stay dated in whatever the decade or period was that was represented by the Elvis, or perhaps by the Darth Vader mask that was hanging above your booth," says Brian Gies, chief marketing officer. Younger consumers tend to view the chain "as a place where their parents ordered potato skins and nachos from suspender-wearing servers in the 1980s … So far, about 90 of Fridays’ 540 American locations have been redesigned, with 81 more scheduled for makeovers this year."

The food trucks will hand out samples "at music, arts and food festivals as well as sporting events" across America. Meanwhile, a "Tumblr page will document the truck’s excursions" and "feature short profiles of people across the country who the brand says also embody a handcrafted aesthetic, like George Vlosich, an Etch A Sketch artist in Cleveland." Chuck Schiller of Richards Group, agency for the initiative says, "The point for us is that we reinforce constantly that we are more like a local bar and grill than a chain."