TGI Fridays to expand use of virtual brands

TGI Friday's Sign

TGI Friday is bringing C3’s Crispy Rice, Kumi and Stony Bowls brands to more restaurants. / photograph: Shutterstock

TGI Fridays is doubling down on virtual brands.

The casual-dining chain said on Tuesday it is expanding its partnership with digital restaurant company C3 to make more use of its brand in as many of its restaurants as possible after a successful trial.

In the fall, TGI Fridays began offering Crispy Rice, a C3-owned sushi concept, as a delivery-only option at some restaurants in California and Maryland. Early returns were promising: The chain said it expects Krispy Rice to add up to $1 million in sales at each restaurant.

Now it’s working with C3 to bring two additional concepts: a nori taco and sushi concept called Kumi and a new Asian bowl brand, Stony Bowls. It is also expanding the C3 brands to new markets for a total of 27 restaurants across seven states.

“The partnership between TGI Fridays and C3 is a win-win for all parties,” said Rohit Manocha, co-founder, TrisArtisan, which owns Fridays. “Through this partnership, we are driving additional revenue streams, as well as providing our guests with innovative and diverse experiences and dining options.”

TriArtisan, which also has Hooters, C3. took a $10 million stake in last August.

MORE: How C3 Built a Restaurant Group for the Digital Age.

Delivery-only brands caught on to sit-down chains during the pandemic as a way to squeeze more revenue out of existing kitchens when dine-in business slowed. While some chains, such as Chillies and Applebees, developed their own virtual brands, TGI Fridays took the route of a partnership with C3.

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C3, founded by restaurateur and businessman Sam Nazarian, has spent nearly five years assembling a collection of more than 40 limited-service concepts. The company operates some brick-and-mortar restaurants, but also licenses its brands to use others as online-only add-ons. It has focused on brands specifically designed to appeal to a younger audience.

“As the virtual restaurant industry continues to innovate, we are thrilled to partner with TGI Fridays, America’s favorite restaurant brand, to provide our virtual restaurant brands with Friday’s popularity and additional revenue opportunities,” Nazarian said in a statement. Let’s supplement with scale.” “The sky is the limit of our work and as such we plan to expand our partnership across the country.”

With over 700 restaurants in 54 countries, TGI Fridays presents a huge growth opportunity for C3, which it said currently has 800 digital brand locations and about 1,000 more in the works.

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