N.O. company buys 20 TGI Fridays restaurants

The New Orleans Advocate: Southeast Restaurant Group, which owns three TGI Fridays restaurants in metro New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, has purchased 20 company-owned locations stretching from Houston to Nashville, Tennessee.

Elie Khoury, president and CEO of New Orleans-based KFK Group, parent company of SRG, said the deal also gives the company the right to develop more TGI Fridays restaurants in the areas where it now has a presence and is considering opening locations in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles.

Terms of the deal for the acquisition of the company-owned restaurants were not disclosed. The move gives Southeast eight TGI Fridays in Houston, four in metro Nashville, three in the Memphis, Tennessee, area and one each in Jackson, Tennessee; Huntsville, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Gulfport and Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

As for opening more restaurants, Khoury said, “we think it’s a matter of finding locations. We think there are all kinds of markets where we could open up TGI Fridays without cannibalizing the existing locations.”

He noted that while there are eight TGI Fridays in metro Houston, competitor Chili’s has 35 locations within 25 miles of the city.

Baton Rouge has had two TGI Fridays restaurants before, at Cortana Mall and on Essen Lane near Perkins Road.

TGI Fridays told The Wall Street Journal last week it would sell most of its company-owned restaurants in the U.S. to franchisees. Company officials said they realized they could provide better support to franchise owners if they got out of the business of running individual restaurants. There are now 284 franchise-owned TGI Fridays restaurants in the U.S. and 233 that are owned by the Texas-based company.

SRG already owned the TGI Fridays at 3330 Veterans Blvd. in Metairie and at 1201 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey, along with the location in Mobile. “This will allow us to have more of a corporate structure for these restaurants,” Khoury said. “We’ll have a director of operations to run each region. There are a lot of good points to having that many restaurants.”

KFK Group is a real estate development firm whose holdings include apartments, hotels and office buildings.

[Timothy Boone]