Some fun times at TGI Friday's restaurant

Friday's started on the Upper East Side of Manhattan where it helped introduce the Singles Bar and casual dining. Other locations opened up until some investors bought the concept, formed a corporation, and opened up the first 'Corporate store' in the singles party section of Dallas - Old Town on Greenville Avenue in January, 1972. A local law had just passed allowing restaurants to serve mixed drinks.
In 1975, when I decided to become a self-employed designer, I got a job as a server at TGI Friday's restaurant in Dallas - I needed a regular paycheck to get me through the lean years of starting my design business. I enjoyed the work (except for the occasional rude customer). Working at Friday's was a great experience - I made some great friends, had some great times, and learned some valuable life lessons.

Some good times

OTLE (pronounced OH tull): Option to Leave Early. It was never an option, it was the manager sending home some w/ws when the lunch or dinner rush ended. Tampa airport: look motel board, “you know a motel?”
guy: I'll show you, wanted to show me around the city

Denver: not know where I was
Scudder asks about opening team. Think it over - fit designer bg plan. Not know would lead to corp job. Called him from Richardson VW. Called mom, going to LA.
Mike McClure and I drive to LA get stoned put on sunglasses for the refineries in Midland, Phoenix crash on the bed wake up in time to go to dinner. Stayed in Venice Beach walked to Marina Delray
Trained managers had four in one shift on a Sunday evening fully one third of the restaurant tips were coming to me but I didn't accept them
TGIF speech, Dayton Ohio: Malcolm MacRae asked if I had an erection, no - khaki pants.
Canoe leave after 2:00 shift, Albers Wilson McClure sham betzelberger me
Diego hotel row, meeting room, whiteboard, I led seminar
Drive truck to Cleveland
Chicago: stay on apt floor per diem
'Tripping' up the stairs
Dance in spilled salad dressing
Memorize orders, recite back wrong
TGIF: routines, sit up on wall by bar, waiter nightmares. Getting slammed sitting by the door staff. Give myself power to go poof.
Table numbering system - draw plans on window in hotel room. Took bubble template with me. Got arch plan at store.
Cashier stand: “No rush”
Servers would set their tip tray on the counter for the cashier to ring up. During meal rush times, the trays backed up waiting on change. Many checks needed no change - they were charges or the customer left the total amount - the ticket just had to be rung up. I couldn't see why those had to get in line and delay those needing change back. So, I set those trays to the side, away from the incoming queue of tip trays, yet still within sight and reach of the cashier (green dot above). I would tell her, "No rush" so she knew to ring up the other tray totals first (red dot). I can still see the face of gratitude on the cashier for making her job less stressful and on the servers who got their change back faster. The head cashier asked the manager to make it a company-wide procedure.
Denver: not know where I was
Opening team
Pee in snow in Illinois blizzard
Drive truck to Cleveland
Chagrin Falls
Trip to Jamaica
After helping out in the Louisville store during the Kentucky Derby, Nora and I drove the TGIF van to our next opening: Ft. Lauderdale. On the way, we stopped at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. That's Nora sitting at the entrance.
After opening the Ft. Lauderdale store, we took a short trip over to Jamaica - Lenzy Griffin, Brad Nelson, Lee Ann Malina, Jim, Nora Hughes. After that opening, our Opening Team split up: some went to work at other locations, some went home, and Nora and I drove the TGIF van to the Atlanta airport so Nora could catch a flight to Boston. I drove the van back to Dallas on I-20. Stayed at Motel 6 in Alabama/Georgia. I picked up some hitchhikers to help with the driving.
Door spiels. Door system, Debbie, Lisa; hand signals, anticipate open tables, get party ready
Walk to store

'No rush' to the cashier

Servers would set their tip tray on the counter for the cashier to ring up. During meal rush times, the trays backed up waiting on change. Many checks needed no change - they were charges or the customer left the total amount - the ticket just had to be rung up. I couldn't see why those had to get in line and delay those needing change back. So, I set those trays to the side, away from the incoming queue of tip trays, yet still within sight and reach of the cashier (green dot above). I would tell her, "No rush" so she knew to ring up the other tray totals first (red dot). I can still see the face of gratitude on the cashier for making her job less stressful and on the servers who got their change back faster. The head cashier asked the manager to make it a company-wide procedure.

More appropriate statement to waiting customers
Also at Friday's, I worked at the door as a Host. When we were on a wait list, we would take names and then call them on the PA when their table was ready. Instead of saying "Mr. Watson, party of 4." (as the Corporate Office requested) I would say "Mr. Watson, your table is ready." While waiting to be seated, the Watson's don't care how many are in their party - they are wondering, "when will my table be ready" so that's what we should tell them. See from the waiting customer's PoV - empathize with them. Tell them what they want to hear.


After helping out in the Louisville store during the Kentucky Derby, Nora and I drove the TGIF van to our next opening: Ft. Lauderdale. On the way, we stopped at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. That's Nora sitting at the entrance.
After opening the Ft. Lauderdale store, we took a short trip over to Jamaica - Lenzy Griffin, Brad Nelson, Lee Ann Malina, Jim, Nora Hughes. After that opening, our Opening Team split up: some went to work at other locations, some went home, and Nora and I drove the TGIF van to the Atlanta airport so Nora could catch a flight to Boston. I drove the van back to Dallas on I-20. I picked up some hitchhikers to help with the driving.
Below: A promo photo of the Cleveland (Mayfield heights) opening materials.

© James Robert Watson, PhD, 2016