TGI Fridays Accused of Using Cheap Alcohol

First Anheuser-Busch is accused of watering down its beer, and now this? Restaurant chain TGI Fridays may be replacing its premium alcohols with less expensive versions.TGIF

"Operation Swill," a year-long investigation, relied on customer complaints, informants, and alcohol-testing technology to cite 29 New Jersey bars. Although Fridays is the only chain with multiple locations in question, several other restaurants, including the following, are part of the investigation:

  • Applebee's, Kearny
  • Bell's Tavern, Lambertville
  • Blackthorn Restaurant, Parsippany
  • The Brick House, Wyckoff
  • Brunswick Grove, East Brunswick
  • Café 34, Matawan
  • Cucina Calandara, Fairfield
  • Graziano's Ristorante, Chesilhurst
  • Italian Affair, Glassboro
  • Murray's, Dover
  • Railroad Café, East Rutherford
  • Ruby Tuesday, Bridgewater
  • Sona Thirteen, Morristown
  • Sunset Tavern, Burlington
  • Villari's Lakeside, Gloucester Township
  • Yesterday's Marmora

A spokesperson from Fridays responded to the claims:

"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."

Other restaurants denied the charges. Brian Hertenstein, general manager of Blackthorn Irish Pub in Parsippany, said, "It's not true, and there were never any complaints from patrons. I'm confident that it'll come back, and it'll be proven we were pouring what's on the label."

Discussion Starters:

  • Does this news surprise you? What are the implications for restaurants in other states?
  • How do you assess Fridays' and Hertenstein's responses? Which works best and why?