TGI Fridays to open at Stockland Green Hills dining precinct on April 20

The Hunter’s first TGI Fridays restaurant is set to open at Stockland Green Hills this Friday, bringing with it a world-first design and Australian-first menu.

But while some will be familiar with the global bar and restaurant chain, many will be wondering ... ‘what on earth is TGI Fridays?’

The American-style restaurant, short for Thank God It’s Friday, sells itself on making “every day feel like Friday”.

It launched in New York as a cocktail bar during the ‘Mad Men’ era of 1965.

In a time of strong “blokey” drinks, founder Alan Stillman introduced sweet cocktails and even invented the long island iced tea, according to TGI Fridays parent company Signature Group CEO James Sinclair.

Word also has it, Stillman also created the iconic ‘happy hour’, which by the way runs 4-6pm every day across all the Australian restaurants.

The chain has now expanded to 61 countries. The Green Hills restaurant in Stockland’s new outdoor dining precinct will be the company’s 11th in Australia.

Mr Sinclair said the company had no immediate plans to open more restaurants elsewhere in the Hunter, and expected diners to flock to the Green Hills venue from far and wide.

“We have customers travel two hours to come to Fridays,” he said.

The world-first Green Hills design has been created by a Spanish firm and includes an American-style counter bar, indoor plants and an open kitchen showcasing chef operation.

The menu offers all the American favourites – ribs, steaks and burgers, but the new menu will include more share plates, a focus on local produce, and meals prepared from scratch.

“Most Fridays have 70 to 90 items on the menu, Green Hills will have 38,” Mr Sinclair said. “It’s more refined and focused on quality.”

Mr Sinclair said the 40 staff had been holding family-friends nights to hone their service skills and put the menu to the test.

“We believe the new restaurant will be very well received,” he said. “It’s been a great feat and exciting project for our local team to bring the restaurant to life.”

The restaurant opens for lunch on Friday.