TGI Fridays has come up with the only summer promo that anyone can remember.

Quick. What is the summer promo at Applebee’s? What’s the big news at Ruby Tuesday? What’s going on at Bennigan’s? Oh wait, nothing is going on at Bennigan’s.

What about Fridays?

Apparently, the investors think “All You Can Eat Appetizers for $10” is stupid. Their remarks boil down to a bunch of naysayers saying, “Nay! Nay! Chipotle and Panera killed casual dining, guys, admit it. This stunt just cheapens your brand (which I-the-investor-community already believe to be dead) and there’s nothing you poor casual dining pub concepts can do but raise prices until literally nobody can afford to eat there.” Then the analysts admit this will probably at least sell some high-margin drinks. Overall, though, they think this will kill the brand.

They think the promotion is a terrible idea.

I disagree. I happen to believe in being interesting. That’s what the public wants. To have their sad, tired brains toyed with now and then, ideally while getting “a deal.”

Isn’t giving away all one’s worldly goods a common sign of depression, which your friends are supposed to be alarmed by?
Isn’t giving away all one’s worldly goods a common sign of depression, which your friends are supposed to be alarmed by?

Sales are “pretty grim” in the casual dine category, so somebody has to do something before the whole grand Fridays concept just faaaaaades away. Even Brian Gies, the Fridays U.S. CMO, gets that the restaurant is stuck in what he artfully calls a “combo-meal malaise.”

I don’t know the realities of their balance sheets. I do know this: Having just gotten off the road (see previous blog entries), and therefore having eaten at a whole lotta restaurants recently, I know that every single restaurant is trying to get me excited about their summer plans. I’ve dubiously given the onceover to many, many tall, skinny, colorful Summer Menu inserts. They spill out of the regular menu or get in my way, and I get overwhelmed and give up and order what I always order. I can’t tell you anything about any of these restaurant’s summer menus, even the ones I’ve moved out of my way several times over the last few weeks.

I can tell you everything about Friday’s after just a couple exposures to it. It’s a simple idea, and it might even be unusual enough to mention to friends. It just might work. I think they should make an even bigger deal out of it than they are.

Does it cheapen the brand? I don’t know. They were always about fun. Their brand is “fun, like a Friday,” right? This is fun—obviously sort of a dare, like The Old 96er.

And they have the audacity to be interesting.