The uber-popular restaurant chain was founded by perfume salesman Alan Stillman in 1965. A bachelor, Stillman lived in a neighborhood on the east side of Manhattan that had many single ladies. However, this presented quite the dilemma for Alan, as most of the social hangouts in the area were either exclusive cocktail parties or bars that were geared toward beer-drinking males. Therefore, he took $5,000 in cash and an borrowed an additional five grand from his mother and repurposed a local NYC tavern, despite having no prior experience as a restaurateur.
Prior to the advent of T.G.I. Friday’s, four single 25-year-old girls were not going out on Friday nights, in public and with each other, to have a good time because there was honestly no such place for them to go. By seeking to recreate the familiar cocktail party experience out in public, Spillman inadvertently created the nation’s first singles bar!