T.G.I. Friday’s debuts new kitchen and bar design


T.G.I. Friday’s has unveiled a new kitchen and bar design in a unit that re-opened this week in Nashville, Tenn.

The Opry Mills Friday’s location, which was destroyed by flooding two years ago, debuted this week with an open kitchen that is about 25 percent smaller than a typical Friday’s unit and a redesigned bar.

“After the flooding, we were totally committed to coming back to Opry Mills, but this time with a restaurant that would knock people’s socks off,” said Ricky Richardson, chief operating officer T.G.I. Friday’s, which is owned by Carrollton, Texas-based Carlson Restaurants.

“We’ve completely redesigned the kitchen so guests can see how we cook their favorite dishes,” Richardson said in a statement, “and the bar is now the centerpiece of the restaurant.”

The bar also includes community tables, located across from the bar, which the company said, “encourage friends to gather and talk, watch a game or wait for a table.”

The kitchen and bar redesigns were shepherded by Dean Small, co-founder and managing partner of Synergy Restaurant Consultants of Laguna Niguel, Calif., who said the result offers a blueprint for future domestic Friday’s units and renovations.

“We wanted to give them a kitchen design that would launch them into the future and differentiate them from the competition,” Small said. “And also we wanted to bring in the new technologies and cooking platforms to the table that would help them to maximize through-put and reduce the kitchen footprint.”

The design, Small added, included a migration strategy “that will allow them to convert older locations into the new technologies and support menu growth.” Friday’s also sought to reduce energy use as well, he said.

The redesign of the new unit takes about 25 percent of square footage out of the kitchen, where the consulting team:

- Installed a plancha. “The plancha allows us to cook burgers not only faster but it cooks at a much higher temperature, something like 600 degrees,” Small said, “so we get a great seer on the beef and we don’t lose the juices in the meat.”

- Added a pizza oven. “It’s a gas-fired pizza oven that we’re doing flatbreads out of and a dozen other items,” he said.

- Installed a combi oven, “which allows us to do multiple things like steam and cook pasta and rice, but it allows us the flexibility of cooking things over night and slow roasting,” Small said.

- Added a high-speed Panini machine.

- Replaced gas ranges with induction cooktops. “That helped our green energy efficiency standards,” Small said.

- Offered a wood-enhanced broiler, which burns a proprietary blend of wood “to perfume and flavor the items.”

The new equipment will also allow for new menu items, he said.

The bar has been redesigned for a “robust, interactive experience,” Small said, and includes quieter blenders and machines to produce three different kinds of ice.

T.G.I. Friday’s has more than 900 restaurants in 60 nations.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless