Fun Facts About T.G.I.Friday’s
By Fabiana Santana
TGI Fridays is fast approaching its 50th birthday. In honor of it, the happy hour favorite has shared a bit of the brand’s history with us. And it’s pretty amazing. While you might never imagine seeing Tom Cruise in a T.G.I.Friday’s, he actually has a Friday’s bartender to thank for his bottle slinging skills in Cocktail. And in 2010, the chain served enough Loaded Potato Skins that if they were laid end-to-end they would reach from Anchorage to Dallas…..and if you laid all of the Chicken Fingers end-to-end that were served….they would reach from Miami to Seattle!
Some Celebs Got Their Start Here
Friday’s restaurants have been the employer of several well-known celebrities – country singer-songwriter Kathy Mattea, Sean Patrick Flannery of “Young Indiana Jones” Brad Garrett of “Everybody Loves Raymond”, CBS news anchor Rene Syler and TV talk show host/American Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres.
Believe it or not, before Fridays, groups of women just didn’t go to bars to meet groups of men. Alan Stillman changed all that in 1965, when he opened the first Fridays at 1152 1st Avenue in New York. His modest goal was to provide a public space for the swinging midtown apartment parties he’d been attending — and “to meet Pan Am stewardesses” — but within weeks the country’s first singles bar had lines down the block, and America never looked back.
They Did It Bigger In Texas
Memphis (the first location outside New York) was wild, but Dallas’ Greenville Ave location was wilder — in Texas Monthly’s 20th anniversary piece, the city’s most famous bachelor, Billy Bob Harris, recalls walking in and thinking, “Oh, Lord Almighty, wow, wow, wow!” The place starred in a 1973 Newsweek cover story on the singles explosion, thanks to insanity like two guys in gorilla suits who’d pull up in an ambulance and rush the crowd (inspiring the “Margorilla” margarita), and Cowboys QB Craig Morton escorting pretty ladies out to his Lincoln Mark III to check out his 8-track player. The ultimate compliment: a Morning News columnist proposed time-capsuling the menu, “to show future generations where all the madness began.”
They Were at The Vanguard of Flair
Fridays “World Bartender Championship” has its roots in 1985 Marina Del Rey. Management, noting the singular bottle-flipping talents of bartender John Mescall, held an in-store competition. Mescall was hesitant (some bartenders viewed his acrobatics as a nuisance), but the idea exploded: the now-massive competition involves 10,000 bartenders from around the world. In 2011, they set the Guinness World Record for “most people cocktail flairing simultaneously for two minutes” when 101 of their bartenders filled London’s Covent Garden Piazza, tossing drink tools to a song prominently featured in Cocktail, “Hippy Hippy Shake”.
The winner of Friday’s first national competition (then called the Bartender Olympics) was John “JB” Bandy. Bandy would go on to train Tom Cruise and Bryan “Coughlin’s Laws” Brown for Cocktail, which used the original Fridays location for filming.
Their Jack Partnership Has Aged Way Better Than Robin Williams Did In Jack
When Fridays and Jack Daniel’s® started up their partnership 17 years ago, Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart” ruled the airwaves, E.R. dominated TV ratings, and Titanic owned the silver screen. Of the NBA players taken in the 1997 draft, only Tim Duncan and Chauncey Billups remain active — the rest are free to eat all the Jack Daniel’s® Black Angus Sirloin, Ribs, Chicken, Shrimp, and Salmon they want.
They Parted The Iron Curtain
In 1997, Fridays became the first American casual eatery to open in Moscow, taking up residence on the freshly revitalized Tverskaya Street. The ancient thoroughfare had served as the home of Russia’s finest hotels and shops before Stalin renamed it Gorky Street, turned it into “a living classic of socialist realism” (yay!), and basically issued a decree saying that, on Tverskaya, it was never Friday.
1 1/2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
1 1/2 ounces Kahlua
8 ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces cream
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
2 scoops chocolate ice cream
1/2 cup peeled, seeded,chopped cucumber
1 tablespoon horseradish, drained
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons wasabi powder (found in the spice aisle or with the Asian foods)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
For the Beans:
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup instant flour (such as Wondra)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon onion powder teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosh er salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peanut or vegetable oil, for fryingDirections
Make the dip: Puree the dressing, cucumber, horseradish, milk, vinegar, wasabi powder, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste in a blender until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Prepare the beans: Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. Let cool in the water, then drain and pat dry.
Whisk the egg and milk in a shallow bowl. Put 1/2 cup flour in another shallow bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs, the remaining 1/2 cup flour, the onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste in another bowl.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the green beans in the flour and shake off the excess. One at a time, dip the beans in the egg mixture, dredge in the breadcrumb mixture and lay on the prepared baking sheet. Freeze until the coating is set, about 30 minutes.
Heat 3 inches oil in a deep pot over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Fry the green beans in batches until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the beans with tongs or a skimmer to a rack or paper towels to drain. Serve with the dip.
Photograph by Yunhee Kim