TGI Fridays announced on Wednesday the hiring of Ray Risley as U.S President and Chief Operating Officer and Nik Rupp as President of International Markets and Chief Financial Officer. Both will report directly to CEO Weldon Spangler as the company continues to implement a growth plan to revitalize the iconic brand globally.
In the role as U.S. President and Chief Operating Officer, Risley will be responsible for the supervision and management of the operational facets and performance standards of all TGI Fridays establishments within the United States, encompassing both Company-owned and Franchised entities. Risley joins TGI Fridays after serving as CEO of Via 313 Pizzeria, where he doubled the brand’s number of units and successfully positioned the award-winning independent pizza chain for significant future expansion. Prior to that, he was President and COO of Front Burner Society, where he was integral to the growth of the Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar concept. Risley notably spent nearly 20 years in a variety of leadership roles at Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, Inc, including most recently as President of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse.
TGI Fridays is also announcing the hiring of Nik Rupp as Chief Financial Officer and President of International. In this role, Rupp will oversee the financial strategy of TGI Fridays with an emphasis in accounting, finance and capital structure, as well as focus on growth and managing relationships with International franchisees. Rupp most recently held the role of COO at Papa Murphy’s International, subsequent to serving as the company’s CFO. Throughout his tenure at Papa Murphy’s, he played an instrumental role in driving a clear vision, strategy, and growth for the international pizza company. Previously, Rupp held leadership positions at esteemed global consumer brands, among them, Specialized, Nike and Converse.
“We have a significant opportunity to lead this much-loved, heritage brand through a revitalized new chapter, and by bringing on Ray and Nik to our leadership team, we are confident in what we can accomplish in the coming year,” says Weldon Spangler, CEO of TGI Fridays. “Not only do Ray and Nik have tremendous experience in the restaurant industry that will drive growth for our brand and our franchisees, but their enthusiasm and passion for TGI Fridays will also be a cornerstone to our vision for the company.”
This news comes as TGI Fridays continues the revitalization of its brand, including reinvigorating many of its legacy menu offerings. Most recently, TGI Fridays unveiled its most innovative bar menu to date with the launch of its “Claus for Celebration” menu, offering up an incredible 14 new cocktails and mocktails for the holiday season. In addition, the brand revamped its world-renowned appetizers menu and rolled out its new Grilled & Sauced™ platform earlier this year.
With a laser focus on operational excellence and compelling menu offerings, TGI Fridays will continue to execute its growth-oriented business plan focused on revitalizing TGI Fridays. Delivering on “That Fridays Feeling” has been synonymous with the iconic brand for nearly 60 years.
TGI Fridays operates and franchises nearly 700 restaurants across 51 countries. The company saw total system wide sales of $1.6B in 2022 with same US sales growing at 8 percent compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic). The company announced its most significant deal in September of last year, consisting of 75 new franchised restaurants to be opened throughout South and Southeast Asia over the next 10 years representing an additional $500MM in restaurant revenue.