Cheers June 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 20 of 43 21 June 2016 • The classic Long Island Ice Tea is also a consistent bestseller, Durbin says. Fridays makes it with Smirnoff vodka, Bacardi rum, Bombay gin, triple sec, brandy, Fridays original sweet & sour, Coke and fresh lemon. In line with Fridays' social theme are the BFD Shareables. These are Big Fridays Drinks, served in a 38-oz. glass with giant straws, intended for two. Flavors include Barbados Rum Punch, Crown Apple Cooler, Peach Sangria and Frozen Margarita. Fridays has also introduced mini cocktails. These typically sell for $5 to $6 and include the Pink Punk Martini, with Skyy vodka, cotton candy, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, fresh lime. The Fresh Strawberry Daiquiri mini is made with Captain Morgan spiced rum, fresh lime, muddled fresh strawberries, passion fruit purée, organic agave and lemon juice. "These drive trial and have great margins," Durbin explains. "They fit into our 'Happy Every Hour' platform, which is something we use to try premium drinks at a limited-time price point." The Happy Every Hour menu also includes low prices for bar staples such as Bud Light ($3), Jameson Irish whiskey ($5), Fireball Cinnamon Whisky ($4) or a mini Long Island Iced Tea ($4). GETTING CRAFTY Craft beer has been on Fridays' radar for several years, Durbin says, and the chain is fully embracing this hot category as part of the rebranding. Individual locations of Fridays will now have more leeway in designing their own craft lineup. The typical Fridays has 12 to 16 taps. A number of these will always be allocated for top-selling macro brands, including Bud Light, Miller Light, Dos Equis, and big-name craft beers such as Sam Adams, Blue Moon, Abita. But the rest of the taps can reflect local brews. For instance, the Corpus Christie location recently had a blonde ale on tap from Lazy Beach Brewing Co., which is located less than 10 miles away. Corpus Christie also poured the Karbach Weisse Versa Wheat Hefeweizen, and the Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Kolsch. Both craft brews are from Houston, bringing a local Texas flavor to the chain. Further incorporating local craft, the new concepts host Tap Takeovers Tuesdays. These weekly showcases pour multiple beers from area microbreweries, at discounted prices when possible. "We appreciate craft beer, and want to support and help drive businesses for local breweries," Durbin says. This focus has expanded elsewhere in the beverage program. "We see and are incorporating a trend towards authentic and local flavors in spirits, as well," Durbin says, "such as Tito's vodka or Deep Eddy vodka in Texas." FUN AND GAMES After working a long day, many guests want to unwind at night with interesting and engaging social activities—especially on weekends. And they are not averse to staying out late if they're having fun. So bars and restaurants with the right nighttime events can capture significant, consistent revenue from the late- night crowd. "This is at the heart of our promotions," Durbin explains. "The number-one thing that Millennials are looking for is fun social experiences." Fridays is offering more activities for the guests who want to stay out later, such as "Lip Sync Showdown," which is a take on karaoke night, Durbin explains. "This gets posted and shared all over social media." The lip sync aspect encourages participation from the vocally- challenged guests. And it plays into a popular trend in TV shows and talk-show bits, in which competitors (often celebrities) go toe-to-toe in lip-sync battles. Also in the new late-night lineup is a trivia night that "asks relevant, pop-culture" questions, Durbin says. Some trivia competitions can turn off participants with obscure and outdated questions. To ensure that its contests are contemporary and culturally relevant, Fridays partners with local trivia companies to come up with questions with a uniquely Fridays spin. Tapping into Millennials' love of nostalgia, Fridays will roll out a "simple game night" that focuses on board games and similar activities, Durbin says. The restaurant also offers live music and DJs on the weekends. MOBILIZING THE COUCH POTATOES To give guests a reason to come in and enjoy a meal at Fridays, the chain in May announced a Dine & Drink menu, which was available through June 19 at participating restaurants. The deal gives customers an entree and drink—alcoholic or non- alcoholic—for $12. What's more, the Dine & Drink menu offers pairing suggestions based on trending entrees and flavors so guests can "choose-their-own-culinary-adventure" by mixing and matching food and beverages. For instance, the Sriracha Shrimp Naan'wich might be suggested with seasoned fries and a Blackberry Margarita. Robust WiFi, couches, games and special offers might tempt some guests to venture into the restaurant. The trick is getting them to keep coming out and choosing Fridays. The food and drinks are central to the experience, Durbin notes. "As much as we talk about the great atmosphere in our restaurants, it's equally important that we provide food and beverages that appeal to the eyes as well as taste buds." "THE NUMBER-ONE THING THAT MILLENNIALS ARE LOOKING FOR IS FUN SOCIAL EXPERIENCES." — Matt Durbin, vice president of concept development at TGI Fridays

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