I haven’t been to a TGI Friday’s in years. I recently read something that Millenials are killing off these casual chain restaurants (like Ruby Tuesdays, Applebee’s and TGI Friday) with preferences for healthier food and it kind of makes me a little sad. I’m not sad people are eating healthier – we are all trying to do that. What I’m sad about is what TGI Friday’s meant to me in my young adulthood as the place to gather for happy hour (with free food which was definitely not healthy) and to catch up with friends while also scoping for potential love interests.
These memories are also a mixed bag but the one thing that sticks out for me is none of us had cell phones so our time together was all about face-to-face conversation and I think there is a lot to be said for that. Usually we started out in the bar area, grabbing a couple of drinks and playing trivia while we waited for others to arrive. We sat or stood around the bar area and caught up on our days. We would also note if there were any cute or interesting strangers in the vicinity and one of us might get up the courage to engage them in conversation (usually not me).
I recall meeting a couple of guys this way and having them lead to dates, but mostly TGI Friday’s was about friendship. My friend and I would invite others to join so it was an opportunity to meet each others work friends too. We’d have our girl’s nights here because food and drinks were relatively inexpensive and comfort food to our undeveloped palates. Conversations revolved around our day-to-day life (was this the precursor to Facebook?!). What movies we had seen, what concerts we were planning to attend, what other fun activities we could do. I’m pretty sure the idea to go skydiving was born here. Also celebrations: birthdays, engagements, work promotions.
There is so much sentiment attached to this era of my life that if you promised me a genie could grant me three wishes, traveling back to this somewhat innocent, social media-free time might be on my list. To unabashedly be able to indulge in the pot-stickers, mozzarella sticks, chicken wings and strawberry daiquiris that were ever present at our table would be a small slice of heaven. Of course I might do a few things differently but in the scheme of things I realize you get to where you are in life by the path you took, twists and turns, ups and downs included. Should TGI Friday’s fail due to waning interest, it will make me more than a little sad.