Absorbing 20 TGI Friday’s takes a ‘ton of work’

TGI Fridays announced last fall it would re-franchise 247 company-owned outlets. The goal, declared company officials, was to end up with some 50 company restaurants and 425 franchised outlets by the middle of 2016.

Enter Elie Khoury, a veteran operator whose Southeast Restaurant Group already franchised two Fridays in Louisiana and one in Alabama, as well as a Chevys Fresh Mex in Miami. It also operated Mazza Mediterranean Cuisine in Miami, which Khoury (a Lebanese émigré) had created.

In December he agreed to add 20 more units of the legacy casual-dining chain to the small company. Their locations spanned eight cities across five states (Houston, Memphis, Nashville, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Huntsville and Little Rock).

We wondered how the relatively small SRG could incorporate so many Fridays at once. Khoury, however, reminded us he has restaurant experience, having once been president of Cuco’s, a Mexican chain.

Yet that was more than a decade ago. Since the late ‘90s, Khoury has been a successful developer, turning historic buildings in New Orleans into apartments through his KFK Group (parent company of SRG). We asked how he and his team will aim to swallow 20 restaurants, not all of which were ideally located.

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