TGI Fridays has joined the growing group of casual-dining chains leaning into pandemic-driven off-premises growth with the development of ‘Fridays on the Fly,’ which will be a new small format restaurant, the company announced at the virtual ICR conference on Monday.
The new 2,500-square-foot store format —which will have a smaller dining room and focus primarily on fulfilling delivery and takeout orders — is coming soon both to U.S. markets and internationally. The first store is currently under construction (although CEO Ray Blanchette did not see where or when this store would be opening) and each store is estimated to garner $2 million average unit volumes.
“What always inhibited the growth of smaller footprints was people still want to eat on Friday and Saturday night at 7 p.m., so if you don’t have the capacity to handle them, it’s hard to get to your average unit volume,” Blanchette said Monday. “The pandemic changed all that. Now that 30% of our revenue comes away from restaurant, we can actually do both.”
Other casual-dining companies like Brinker International, Inc., IHOP, Friendly’s, and PF. Chang’s have already leaned into smaller formats, ghost kitchens and virtual brands to handle the surge in off-premises demand. TGI Fridays announced a partnership with Reef Technology back in Oct. 2021 to launch as many as 300 delivery restaurants in the United States, Canada and elsewhere internationally over the next five years, indicating another step in a new direction for the restaurant industry.
“We know and believe strongly that the demand for off-premise is here to stay,” president and COO John Neitzel said during Monday’s ICR conference, noting that delivery orders took up about 17-20% of the chain’s sales last year and 30% of the company’s revenue comes from off-premises sales.
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