Let that sink in for a sec. Now, move your hand up to your mouth, and manually close your lips which, for one reason or another, are probably wide open right about now.
TGI Fridays, the casual dining chain mocked in cult-movie favorite “Office Space” for its requirement that servers be decorated with “flair,” has unleashed a potentially gust-busting special offer on America’s digestion systems this summer. The Endless Appetizer promotion, good through August 24, gives customers a choice of seven appetizers at a price of $10 apiece—with as many free refills on the order as you can stomach.
The appetizer choices are:
• Loaded Potato Skins
• Pan-Seared Pot Stickers
• Mozzarella Sticks
• Garlic & Basil Bruschetta
• Tuscan Spinach Dip
• Boneless Buffalo Wings
• Crispy Green Bean Fries
The offer comes at a time when TGI Fridays, and casual-dining segment as a whole, hasn’t been faring well. After struggling for years, which included several attempts to refresh the brand, TGI Fridays was sold to a restaurant investment group in May. The appetizer deal sniffs a little of desperation, and there are those who think that TGI Fridays will get burned.
Chris Muller, a restaurant analyst and hospitality professor at Boston University, told USA Today that he pictures big groups of customers taking advantage of the offer. “The risk comes when a crowd of six, or more, decides to get together and pool their resources, all ordering one item and sharing,” Muller said. “Then it is easy to predict that everyone will order at least six refills each, with plates being passed around.”
Such sharing is supposed to be discouraged at tables to prevent such appetizer offer abuse, but TGI Fridays says it’s not going to bust anyone who does so. “At the end of the day, our servers aren’t policemen,” said Fridays chief marketing officer Brian Gies. “We’re not going to slap someone’s hand if they reach over and share someone else’s mozzarella sticks.”