The shuttered TGI Fridays in Islandia on Wednesday.

The shuttered TGI Fridays in Islandia on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

TGI Fridays has closed 36 “underperforming” restaurants, including three on Long Island, the casual-dining chain said Wednesday.

The three Long Island restaurants — at South Shore Mall, 1725 Sunrise Hwy., in Bay Shore; 3045 Express Dr. North in Islandia; and 5204 Sunrise Hwy. in Massapequa Park — and 33 others permanently closed on Tuesday, a TGI Fridays spokeswoman said Wednesday. 

All were corporate-owned eateries, she said.

She did not respond to an inquiry about how many Long Island employees were affected.

TGI Fridays also announced on Wednesday that eight corporate-owned restaurants in the Northeast, outside the New York area, were sold to former CEO Ray Blanchette.

The changes are part of TGI Friday's efforts to streamline its operations, Ray Risley, U.S. president and chief operating officer for the restaurant chain, said in a statement Wednesday.

“By strengthening our franchise model and closing underperforming stores, we are creating an unprecedented opportunity for Fridays to drive forward its vision for the future," he said.

As part of the restaurant closings, TGI Fridays is offering more than 1,000 employees, representing more than 80% of the total number of impacted workers, the opportunity to transfer to other restaurants, the chain said.

There are seven remaining TGI Fridays restaurants on Long Island, including locations in Westbury, Rockville Centre, Levittown and Riverhead.

The TGI Fridays that was at South Shore Mall opened in 1998 in a 6,830-square-foot, freestanding building, said Ken Hamilton, general manager of the mall.

Business at the eatery appeared to have been on the decline, he said.

“I had noticed that their business was not as vibrant as Olive Garden, which is right next to them. I don’t know if that’s of their own doing or not. But they obviously closed for a reason,” Hamilton said.

“Olive Garden is slightly larger but they’re packed all the time. Fridays has been relatively quiet for, I would say, maybe a year now,” he said.

The TGI Fridays that was in Massapequa Park, which occupied a 7,600-square-foot, freestanding building in the Sunrise Promenade shopping center, opened around 1993, said Clifford Sondock, director of leasing at Spiegel Associates, the Jericho-based real estate developer that manages and leases the shopping center.

The Islandia restaurant opened in a 7,000-square-foot, freestanding building in 1992, said Peter Cosentino, president of Cosentino Development Group, a Commack-based company that owns the Islandia property through an affiliate.

'Severe' rate of closures

Founded in 1965, TGI Fridays has more than 650 restaurants in 51 countries.  Ten years ago, the Dallas-based chain had more than 900 restaurants in more than 60 countries.

In the United States, TGI Fridays' number of restaurants has fallen by more than 50% since 2014 — from 500 to 237 eateries.

"While other large casual-dining players like Applebee’s and Chili’s have shrunk their domestic store counts slightly in recent years, TGIF’s rate of closures have been notably severe," said Kevin Schimpf, director of industry research and insights at Technomic, a restaurant and retail industry research firm in Chicago.

TGI Fridays' ongoing struggles likely stem from a variety of issues, he said.

"Their system is more heavily franchised than many of their competitors, especially compared to Olive Garden.  They’ve had numerous changes in leadership and ownership over the years," he said. 

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