In the late 1990s, TGI Fridays (TGIF) was a popular hangout spot among food lovers in the city. Its unexpected closure could not be stomached by many. The franchise, which maintains a presence in 61 countries, is now back in Karachi with its signature red-and-white striped logo, but under a new local management. Revamped and ready to tantalise taste buds, the restaurant was launched this month in Boat Basin, which is known for its variety of eateries.
TGIF has two branches in Pakistan; the first was launched in Islamabad in November 2013 and the second in Karachi. Now in the hands of MCR International, which manages Pizza Hut and Burger King, TGIF attempts to revive the casual dining trend.
Speaking at its launch, Maryam Hassan, CEO TGIF Pakistan, said that MCR International finds TGIF to be the perfect way of bringing back “the original casual dining concept that everyone reminisces.”
The International New York Times reported in 2007 that TGIF introduced smaller portions to its menu and found that to pivot more customers to the chain and subsequently led to increased profits. But TGIF Pakistan offers big-sized meals that are perhaps suitable for Pakistanis.
They offer sizeable portions of chicken caesar salad and fish platter, among other dishes. “Although the meals are big, we have taken into consideration the idea of giving [customers their money’s worth] by serving the right portion at the right price,” explains Maryam. The restaurant is also offering a Kids Special Menu to give children an experience of their own.
Once loved for its burgers, we find out if the menu has changed over the years. “TGIF is one of the very few international concepts that have carried its signature items through the course of time successfully. At the same time, it has innovated and infused new flavours into its food,” she said. “The menu is fresh and playful with a great variety. Mocktails and other beverages are also an integral part of the Fridays’ experience.”
A big crowd of people were revelling in the fun atmosphere at the launch, which took place on a Wednesday. Although the weekend was still far ahead, the tagline ‘In here, it’s always Friday!’ seemed all too appropriate. “We have seen a considerable number of people come to TGIF for lunch. Teenagers and office goers seem to enjoy the lunch hour and are demanding late night offerings too,” says Maryam. “Preliminary signs are indicating that TGIF will become the place to be for those who wish to relax in addition to having great food and beverages.”
TGIF intends to target Lahore’s market next, but no dates have been revealed so far. Maryam says, “No business plans have been solidified as yet. Opening TGIF in Lahore is the natural next step, but a date cannot be confirmed at this point.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2014.
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