T.G.I. Friday’s customers know that even if the calendar says Monday, it’s “Friday” inside the restaurant’s doors.
That wink-and-a-nod charade sets a mood, and everyone’s in on it. Not so for allegations of another, far more serious deception.
If an investigation proves some of the chain’s New Jersey locations were selling cheap alcohol and claiming it was high-end liquor, what those customers were told was Grey Goose was really Gordon’s.
Following a yearlong investigation called “Operation Swill,” agents from New Jersey’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control raided 29 bars statewide on Wednesday, 13 of which were T.G.I. Friday’s locations, for allegedly filling bottles for expensive liquors with cheaper brands.
Friday’s isn’t the only chain caught up in the investigation. Individual Applebee’s and Ruby Tuesday locations are on the list as well. Still, Friday’s is the only chain with multiple locations raided by authorities.
According to The Star-Ledger
, the investigation “began as a result of complaints, confidential informants, and new technology used to test liquor covertly purchased at the establishments by detectives.”
On the T.G.I. Friday’s Facebook page, fans seemed less than pleased with the news
It didn’t help matters that the company’s most recent status update, posted Tuesday, touts its spring drink menu, thereby setting up comments such as this one:
“By new drinks you mean cheap liquor advertised as top shelf?”
When PR Daily
contacted T.G.I. Friday’s for comment, a spokeswoman offered this statement in response to the investigation:
“TGI Fridays was just made aware of this issue and is working closely with the franchisee and owner of the cited locations to review and investigate these serious allegations. We have one of the most extensive bar and beverage programs in the industry, which sets a very high standard in the quality and service of our beverages.”
Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.