On fridays we wear Red Shirt



On fridays we wear Red Shirt  Long before the Cronut, T.G.I. Friday’s was one of the first places where people lined up for food and drink in New York.“I believe [we had] the first line in the history of bars, restaurants, and discos may have been at T.G.I. Friday’s. Inside of three months, we had to hire a doorman…[and] ended up buying velvet ropes. There was nothing like that anywhere else. You would either have a reservation at a fancy restaurant or you would just go into a bar or diner — nobody would wait in line for food and drink.”Stillman claims Tom Cruise’s character in Cocktail was based on him.“Have you seen the movie Cocktail? Tom Cruise played me! I was lucky enough to do it for three years — he only did it to make a movie. Even today, the advantage of being the guy behind the bar is huge. Why do girls want to date the bartender? To this day, I’m not sure that I get it.”The franchising of Friday’s was largely accidental.“But the second actual T.G.I. Friday’s was in Memphis, Tennessee. I didn’t pick it — they picked me. The original bar was two years old, and it had national recognition at that point. Somebody came in and said, ‘I’m from Memphis, Tennessee, and I own a shopping area down there with room for one of these. Will you sell me a franchise?’On fridays we wear Red Shirt  I have to admit that I didn’t know what the word franchise meant. So I said, ‘If you have the money, I’ll be the partner and I’ll show you how to do it, and we’ll split it 50/50.’ We shook hands and a year and a half later, we opened up a T.G.I. Friday’s in Memphis…. Before I knew it I had five or six T.G.I. Friday’s round the country. It wasn’t pre-planned at all.”Expansion to the South turned it into a family place.[Creating larger restaurants] didn’t change [the concept] as much as our expansion into the big southern suburban towns. Those cities have a very different way of interacting with the street in the first place, but the big shift was that during the day, we started to get families. We had very informal, casual food — you could get an omelette or a hamburger — so families were coming in with their kids. That was the big change. It took six or seven years, but T.G.I. Friday’s became a very different animal.”.On fridays we wear Red Shirt  Smith & Wollensky was inspired by a trip to France.“I took a break [after the success of T.G.I. Friday’s]. I got married, we travelled around Europe, and that’s where I learned about food and wine. My wife and I spent a lot of time in France, and we became somewhat sophisticated. We saw a lot of French brasseries that served only French wine and French cuisine. When we came back here, the only thing like it was American steakhouses — but they didn’t serve any American wine. I thought that if I opened up a steakhouse and I served Californian wines, maybe I’d have something special and unique, and that’s how Smith & Wollensky got started. It was the American version of the French restaurants I loved in France.”Mimi Sheraton’s review almost killed the restaurant.“The first review we got was the worst review in the history of the world. It was by Mimi Sheraton for the New York Times. We almost went broke. So we took out three full-page ads in the Times. At the time, the two big deal steakhouses in New York were The Palm and Christ Cella, and our ad showed two big matchbooks and said, ‘At last, a match for The Palm and Christ Cella!’ We took it out three days in row, and business took off.On fridays we wear Red Shirt