TGI Fridays has taken on two former Carluccio's sites in high street locations after the Italian restaurant group fell into administration following the Covid-19 crisis.
The two sites in in Cobham, Surrey, and Lincoln are smaller than most in the group's portfolio with CEO Robert Cook explaining that the diversification of the estate was being explored alongside further delivery and retail opportunities as the group looks to a future beyond the pandemic.
Cook, who joined TGI Fridays as CEO in December 2019, told The Caterer: "We've taken the opportunity to take on two new restaurants through the ugly world of administration and we're really excited to bring Lincoln and Cobham into the stable and make them great Fridays restaurants."
The group has reopened the majority of its estate this week with six restaurants selected to trial a new ‘Famous at Fridays' concept celebrating its classic dishes and cocktails.
The sites will launch with the new concept and Cook hopes the first will welcome guests by the end of September with the second opening by the end of October. The restaurants' offerings will reflect their local environments with Lincoln having a greater emphasis on wet sales due to the city's large student population.
While the CEO said he was "excited" to increase the group's estate he remained cautious about the future, emphasising that the hospitality sector as a whole, and casual dining in particular, remained "under a dark cloud".
He explained: "Cobham and Lincoln were relatively inexpensive opportunities that were great, so we grabbed those, but I'm still very, very cautious because we're all dealing with the invisible and I think it's too early to be diving into new ideas that are capitally intensive."
For a full interview with Robert Cook see the 24 July edition of The Caterer.
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