The creator of TGI Fridays reveals the hilarious reason he really founded the restaurant
I don't know about you guys, but one day, it would be a dream of mine to own my own fast food franchise. Would I sell burgers? Pizza? Fried chicken? Pancakes? Okay, so the good ones are already taken, but it would be nice in any case to feed thousands, if not millions, of hungry mouths.
That being said, there are probably quite a few reasons to found your own successful business, even taking personal pride, profit and the joy of fulfilling a need into account. Mark Zuckerberg just wanted to rate women at his campus and accidentally founded one of the biggest companies out there today. Dr Seuss became a world-renowned children's author in order to win a petty bet.
This brings us quite nicely to Alan Stillman, the founder of TGI Fridays. Nowadays, you think of TGI Fridays as the restaurant chain with the delicious steaks and quesadillas, but as Stillman reveals; once upon a time, the modus operandi of TGI Fridays was way, way different.
Now 81 years old, Stillman looks back on the initial founding of his restaurant, when he bought a schlubby-looking bar in New York City. Stillman was your average 28-year-old living in the big city in 1965; trying to make it big by selling essential oils, and in the wake of a massive sexual revolution, trying to... make his mark.
Speaking to Business Insider for their latest episode of a podcast called Household Name, Stillman revealed the reason he founded TGI Fridays was, in fact, an elaborate scheme to troll for strange, so to speak. "My business plan was to meet a lot of women," he admitted, adding: "It's a hell of a business plan, I’ll tell you that."
It sure was, Alan Stillman. Back in March 1965, Stillman borrowed money from his mother in order to give the bar a facelift, and opened it under the name TGI Fridays. It was a risky venture, but it proved to be a gamble that immediately paid off.
"It became more similar to what a mosh pit is. It was so crowded that you didn't have to walk up to anybody to get a name or a telephone number. You bumped into them."
Back in the swingin' sixties, it apparently wasn't too difficult to meet your perfect beau in Stillman's restaurant, but nowadays, if a couple told me that they'd met in a TGI Fridays, I'd absolutely laugh in their face.
Fast forward to present day and TGI Fridays is the last restaurant you'd go to if you wanted to meet someone, and looking back at his legacy with a wistful eye, Stillman admitted that the art of seduction is better learned outside of his now flagship franchise.
"You don't need a TGI Fridays bar scene to meet somebody. It's just not a necessity, whereas at the time, although I didn't know it, we invented a necessity and we solved what was a really big problem."
Although we've got Tinder, Bumble and the like to help us meet people nowadays; for a little while in New York City, you had to enlist the help of TGI Fridays to help you find somebody special. How strange that must have been.