T.G.I. Friday's in Champaign closing

T.G.I. Friday's in Champaign closing

CHAMPAIGN — The TGI Friday's restaurant in Champaign is closing after 20 years in business, according to the parent company.

Calls placed Friday to the franchisee's regional manager, Greg Wallace, were not immediately returned.

But a person working with the TGI Friday's chain said the Champaign location was closing because the franchise agreement was expiring and the franchisee did not want to renew it.

The franchisee, Village X, also operates the TGI Friday's restaurants in Bloomington, Effingham and Springfield. Managers at those restaurants said they will remain open.

The Champaign restaurant, located at Trade Centre South near the corner of Kirby Avenue and Neil Street, opened on April 6, 1992. It occupied about 8,000 square feet on the first floor of Trade Centre South.

Jerry Ramshaw of Ramshaw Real Estate, which handles leasing at Trade Centre South, declined comment Friday on the future of the space.

TGI Friday's — part of Carrollton, Texas-based Carlson Cos. — has 924 restaurants in 61 countries. When TGI Friday's opened in Champaign in 1992, the chain had only 171 restaurants.

TGI Friday's got its start in New York in 1965, opened a second restaurant in Memphis in 1970 and a third in Dallas in 1972. The casual-dining chain was acquired by Carlson Cos. in 1975 and grew to more than 500 restaurants by 1998.

Carlson is also in the hotel business under the Radisson, Country Inn and Suites, and Park Inn brands and is in the travel business under Carlson Wagonlit Travel.


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areader wrote on April 07, 2012 at 8:04 am

Bummer.  I have some great memories of awesome times with friends at this restaurant.

lebloom wrote on April 07, 2012 at 10:04 am

Well, that does stink.  Thats one of my favorites here.  Someone out there have the money to buy this franchise before it does close?

Orbiter wrote on April 07, 2012 at 11:04 am

What a fantastic opportunity for a new restaurant to take the space! Surrounded by hotels, near a premium corner on a very busy street, I can't imagine this location will remain empty for long. Let's hope one of our local entrepreneurs is able to get a non-chain, upscale style non-mexican and non-chinese restaurant in there soon!

poudresteve wrote on April 07, 2012 at 11:04 am

This is just the latest in the string of restaurants to close on South Neil Street, both local and chain places.  There needs to be some serious thinking on how to spruce up Neil from Logan to Devonshire, because the aging buildings there, many of which are unoccupied, will continue to drive people and businesses to other parts of town.  Given that this is a main corridor for people arriving in town from the airport, this business district needs attention if we wish to attract people to C-U.

ddf1972 wrote on April 07, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Agree on the sprucing up factor, sadly not many people arrive from the airport!

ddf1972 wrote on April 07, 2012 at 4:04 pm

That Fridays hasn't been very good for years in my opinion, and has been eclipsed by so many better, esp. non-chain places.  It's a pretty big space, but I hope something non-franchised can open up in there.  It would be great to give Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium folks another option.

Cstraight wrote on April 09, 2012 at 11:04 am

Well this stinks! Are they closed already?? Does anyone know when the last day is??? Thanks

vnconn wrote on April 09, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I'd like to see a really good sit-down seafood place go in there, this town is lacking in that niche.  Red Lobster needs competition! I think we already have MORE than enough non-chain chinese and mexican places here and honestly I don't care whether the place that goes in there is a chain or not as long as it isn't something we already have, I would even be happy with a Joe's Crab Shack.

read the DI wrote on April 10, 2012 at 8:04 am

I agree; a good seafood place would be nice. Trouble is. Central Illinois is too distant to offer fresh seafood at a decent price, unless, of course, you like carp. And Red Lobster is guano.



ScottC wrote on April 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Try Escobars.  I don't know how they do it, but their sea food dishes are always amazingly good.  The calamari frito is the best I've had anywhere including places on the Spanish coast.  How this happens in the midwest is one of life's great mysteries.

Olu1981 wrote on April 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm

They closed last Friday night. My family and I decided to eat there on the spur of the moment, not knowing it would be our last meal there!