Why TGI Fridays will close multiple locations this year

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(NEW YORK) — TGI Fridays is starting off the new year by shuttering dozens of locations to support the restaurant chain’s long-term growth strategy, which it said includes appointing a former stakeholder to lead select regional locations “into a new phase of revitalization.”

The Dallas-based casual dining bar and grill chain announced it will soon be closing 36 of its “under-performing corporate-owned restaurants” in the U.S. and selling off “eight previously corporate-owned restaurants in the Northeast to former CEO Ray Blanchette.”

While TGI Fridays did not specify in the release which U.S. markets would be impacted by the closures, it underscored that there will be “more than 1,000 transfer opportunities,” which the company said “represents over 80% of total impacted employees.”

Since 2014, TGI Fridays restaurants have depleted nationwide by more than 50%, down from 500 eateries to just 233.

The restaurant chain, known for its social, weekend-ready atmosphere and low-price happy hour specials, called the new year moves “an era of transformation,” with new transitions in place to drive revenue while remaining committed to the overall guest experience.

Ray Risley, U.S. president and COO, said in a statement that TGI Friday’s has “identified opportunities to optimize and streamline our operations to ensure we are best positioned to meet and exceed on that brand promise.”

The sale to Blanchette comes on the heels of a recent move to bolster TGI Fridays’ leadership team, which included appointments of Weldon Spangler as CEO, Risley as U.S. president and COO, and Nik Rupp as president and COO of international, and CFO.

“As we continue along our path of transformation to revitalize the Fridays brand and implement a long-term growth strategy, we see a bright future for TGI Fridays,” Spangler stated in the press release. “We are at the helm of a pivotal moment that will allow us to explore boundless advancement, expansion, and innovation to keep delivering ‘That Fridays Feeling’ that our fans know and love.”

Risley added that by strengthening the TGI Friday’s franchise model and closing underperforming stores, “we are creating an unprecedented opportunity for Fridays to drive forward its vision for the future.”

TGI Fridays did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment as to which locations and how many total employees would be impacted by the closures.

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