T.G.I. Friday's Is First Chain To Think Small

Don't ask to be super-sized at T.G.I. Friday's: On Friday, the Carrollton, Texas-based casual-dining chain introduced a new menu that offers smaller portions, at lower prices, all day.

The "Right Portion, Right Price" menu includes six new entrees, priced from $6.99 to $8.99. Among the choices are Asian-glazed chicken with field greens, cedar-seared salmon on field greens, and a sirloin-steak salad--Four regular menu items, including bruschetta chicken parmesan, Cajun shrimp and chicken pasta, a half-rack of baby back ribs and shrimp Key West--will also be available in downsized portions.

The sizes are 30% smaller than regular portions. Regular entrees range in price from $10 to $14, so the new menu signifies a price reduction of about one-third, the company said.

The menu, which Friday's tested for six months, will be available in all 582 Friday's locations. If it's successful, Friday's will "evaluate the opportunities" for introducing smaller versions of other menu categories, in addition to entrees.



Friday's will air national ads featuring animation for the new menu beginning Wednesday. Deutsch/LA handles.

Consumer demand led to the smaller menu, according to Richard Snead, president and CEO of Friday's parent, Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. "This is a category issue stemming from consumer demand. The category needs to listen," Snead said. "We are listening."

Friday's move "is noteworthy because of who Friday's is," said Ron Paul, president of Technomic Inc., the Chicago-based restaurant research firm. However, the maneuver isn't entirely new: Italian chains usually offer half portions of pasta, and some casual-dining chains offer smaller versions of entrée salads.

Paul predicted that other chains would adopt a wait-and-see stance before fashioning similar menus. "If it works, this is a good way to get customers in," he said, noting that casual-dining chains have been suffering from soft same-store sales.

The menu does not, however, signal the beginning of the end of oversize portions. Customers view huge portions as good value, and "there are a lot of customers who leave with a bag," Paul said. "There are consumers who love huge portions."

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