Each of us, regardless of the circumstances of our birth, is entitled to basic human dignity. That means freedom from fear and from want. It means access to food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. But it also means dining with friends and family in an environment where one can, on any day of the week, enjoy “that Friday feeling.” Indeed, during my time running this popular restaurant chain, I have come to realize that TGI Fridays is a fundamental human right.
And it saddens me deeply to know there are still billions of people around the globe who are routinely deprived of an authentic Fridays experience.
Even here in the United States—the richest nation on earth and home to more than half of the world’s TGI Fridays locations—many endure conditions in which they are routinely deprived of endless appetizers, including our Loaded Potato Skins, Pan-Seared Pot Stickers, and Boneless Wings in the flavor of their choice. How does that square with our values? It’s frankly unacceptable that any human being, in this country or any other, should be forced to travel upwards of 50 miles just to get a sip of a Peach Honey Smash or Frozen Lava Flow cocktail.
Whatever our race, gender, sexual preference, or national origin, we are all born with certain essential liberties. By simple virtue of our humanity, we have the right to enjoy a cold one with buddies at a lively TGI Fridays bar, or take in the restaurant’s fun, festive, and slightly quirky atmosphere while seated in a cozy booth on date night. No matter our station in life, we all deserve to gather around tables rearranged to accommodate a birthday party of a dozen or more while the high-spirited Fridays waitstaff sings to us and serves us a complimentary dessert.
Yet there are children in this world who will go their whole lives without sinking their teeth into our Dragon Glaze Salmon—this despite the fact that kids eat free on Mondays at participating locations.
It should go without saying that we want all children to inherit a culture in which they can choose from seemingly limitless options presented in a 20-page menu full of drinks, appetizers, salads, burgers, entrées, and desserts. We should be ashamed that so many members of our most vulnerable populations go to bed hungry each night for want of a Fridays Big-Rib Bucket of Bones or a plate of our Jack Daniel’s sliders slathered in chipotle mayo. Our inaction on this front is truly appalling.
To paraphrase a great champion of human rights, an absence of TGI Fridays anywhere is a threat to TGI Fridays everywhere.
Not once has the United Nations passed a resolution to fund the building of TGI Fridays franchises in South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly everyone lacks access to warm, inviting restaurants with vibrant Americana-themed decor. Yet in the U.N.’s own Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it clearly states that we are all “endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Surely Eleanor Roosevelt and the other drafters of this profound document would have intended that brotherly spirit to encompass the sharing of Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls with craft-beer-cheese dipping sauce among the entire human family.
We still have a long way to go. There are currently over 900 TGI Fridays in more than 60 countries, but that’s hardly enough. We must not rest until all 7.6 billion people on this planet are free to exercise their God-given right to peacefully assemble in a place where they can grab a table, relax, and know that in here—in this exciting, energetic casual-dining facility with fast and friendly service—it is always Friday.