Imagine a middle-aged man sitting all alone, in a crumpled suit, looking thoroughly miserable. Imagine that said man is wearing a party hat, and is blowing mournfully on one of those party whistle kazoo things. This pretty much epitomizes the vibe of TGI Friday’s.

“In Here, It’s Always Friday”, proclaims a sign above the door of the branch I recently visited in Northampton. This was a lie. It was a Saturday.

I get it, I get it; it’s a metaphor. The slogan is basically saying ‘Hey! Dudes! It’s well fun and chillaxed in here!” But, even waving aside the fact that this is premised on the erroneous assumption that everyone works a standard Mon-Fri week and can’t wait for the weekend,  the metaphor doesn’t hold up. Being exhorted specifically to have fun is almost guaranteed to ensure that the opposite occurs. The staff seem to wander round with nervous smiles, apparently terrified at the prospect that fun may not be being had.

Or the obsequiousness may be an apology for the food: an undersized portion of tepid chips, a soggy burger bun and some kind of beanburger thing that had obviously been purchased from Iceland or similar. (Not that this is a bad thing per se, but in Iceland you wouldn’t pay a tenner for the privilege.) And the portions. The portions. The least one should expect from this kind of faux American shebang is monster-sized American portions, but no: my portion was smaller than the amount of fun I was having. That was another metaphor.

An apple/waffle/ice cream dessert concoction raised the whole experience into the realms of the adequate. And also the American paraphernalia adorning the walls meant I didn’t have to think too hard about being in Northampton. Another bonus.


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