TGI Fridays has named a new CEO for the second time in two months.
The casual-dining brand announced Tuesday that longtime board member Weldon Spangler was appointed chief executive, effective immediately. He replaces Brandon Coleman III, who had served as CEO since the end of August. TGI Fridays said Coleman resigned for personal reasons.
Spangler, who’s served as a board member since September 2019, has diverse experience in the quick-service segment, including three years at Taco Bell, 15 at Starbucks, seven at Dunkin’ Brands, two at Papa Murphy’s, and two-and-a-half at Subway. He’ll bring CEO experience from his days at Papa Murphy’s, where he executed leadership for a public company with 1,4000 stores across the U.S., Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.
TGI Fridays sits at nearly 700 restaurants in 51 countries. In November 2019, a special purpose acquisition company named Allegro reached an agreement for a merger valued at $380 million with TGI Fridays to take the chain public. However, this deal unraveled in the spring of 2020 due to the uncertainties brought by COVID.
Before this merger attempt, TGI Fridays had been actively pursuing various strategies to revitalize its business. These initiatives included the appointment of CEO Ray Blanchette, the acquisition of additional franchises, changes in leadership at the operational and managerial levels, a heightened focus on enhancing the bar experience, offering unique value propositions, expanding off-premises dining options, and implementing loyalty programs for both customers and employees.
In 2014, Carlson Restaurants sold TGI Fridays to TriArtisan Capital and Sentinel Partners for a sum exceeding $800 million. Since its merger with Carlson three decades ago, the chain has remained privately held.
The brand generated $1.6 billion in 2022 systemwide sales. In comparison to 2019, U.S. same-store sales increased 8 percent.
In September of 2022, the brand introduced its most substantial franchise deal to date. This agreement outlines plans to open 75 new franchised restaurants in South and Southeast Asia over the next decade, which is expected to contribute an additional $500 million in revenue. Domestically, TGI Fridays opened inside Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in July. The unit is on pace to earn $14 million in annual revenue, making it the highest-volume store of any U.S. airport restaurant.
In terms of menu, the brand launched Krispy Rice, a virtual concept developed by food technology company C3. It also rolled out a new Grilled & Sauce category that the brand described as the biggest menu change since the 1990s. Earlier this month, the chain updated its appetizer lineup with 18 options starting at $3, added to its bowl/salad lineup, and formed a partnership with Athletic Brewing Company, the largest nonalcoholic craft beer brand in the U.S.
Before his resignation, Coleman told FSR that his priority was to build TGI Fridays’ relevance through beneficial partnerships, better communication with customers, and more excitement around the bar.
A news release said TriArtisan Capital co-founder Rohit Manocha will “continue to collaborate closely with Mr. Spangler and the dedicated team at TGI Fridays in his role as the active Chairman of the company.”
“I thank Rohit and the board for their trust in me and look forward to working closely with the board on executing on our new growth-oriented business plan focused on revitalizing TGI Fridays,” Spangler said in a statement. “We are a well-loved brand around the world, which is a strong foundation on which to build our business and brand.”