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” Then, twenty years ago this month, the revolution began.
On a lonely road in North Dallas known as Greenville Avenue, TGI Friday’s opened, triggering a singles explosion that, like the Big Bang, has not subsided yet.
After starting clubs in Memphis, Nashville, and Little Rock, they decided to bring the concept to Dallas, not sure what to expect.
“Our big worry,” said Henrion, “was that the two of us would just sit there night after night, all alone, praying that a customer would come in.” The truth was they had chosen the exact moment when Dallas’ libido was about to ignite.
So Henrion and Scoggin decided to create one, with help from interior designer Herbert Hughes.
In a Volkswagen bus, they drove 13,000 miles, collecting knickknacks and antiques such as copper cash registers, stained-glass panels, wooden ceiling fans, moose heads, and Tiffany-style lamps to decorate their club.
In the days before the official opening, the newly hired waiters were instructed to dash at breakneck speed from the tables to the kitchen with their orders.
They were told to be spontaneous and fun—they could sit down at a table with the customers and chat for a while if they wanted to—and to never, ever behave like the waiters from that other famous Dallas-based restaurant chain, Steak and Ale, who introduced themselves like robots with variations on the line “Hi, my name is Steve, and I’ll be your waiter for the evening.” Friday’s bartenders-in-training were told to clang the old ship’s bell over the bar whenever a customer gave a good tip or honk a horn if the tip was small, and each Thursday night at midnight they were to pass out hats and horns and champagne and throw a “New Year’s Eve” party.Then they circled the bar—a ritual that would become known in bar parlance as taking a lap.Once they finished the lap, they would turn and gaze out over the restaurant at other singles sitting at tables.The restaurant could accommodate more than four hundred people, and Henrion and Scoggin had made sure to put the tables near the bar to increase the crowding—and mixing.The most important thing they did, however, was to make TGI Friday’s respectable.” said Billy Bob Harris, who for more than a quarter of a century has reigned as one of Dallas’ most famous bachelors. I had never seen high heels, a miniskirt, and no hose on one woman at the same time.” No less a fashion authority than Women’s Wear Daily was so impressed with the scene at the Dallas TGI Friday’s that it sent down a photographer to capture the action. ” Of the three hundred people who would crowd in each night, estimated Henrion, 50 percent came for the action and 50 percent to gawk.“The girl-watching is good,” WWD wrote, “with lots of shrink tops, halterbacks and Hot Pants.” The Dallas Morning News, in turn, complimented the men’s fashions, saying one could see “anything from jeans and wide, colorful belts and shoes, to coat and tie and sleeveless sweaters.” The heavy action of each evening, however, was the pickup scene, where Dallas singles tried out what were at the time never-before-used opening lines: “Do you come here often? Dallas Times Herald columnist Dick Hitt was so astonished by all the hustling that he called Friday’s “the bar where the Single Mingles hang out.” Soon the national press followed suit, turning the club into one of the most famous singles bars in the country.A prosperous economy had brought a flood of young adults to the city, and a huge singles-oriented apartment complex called the Village was being constructed just a few blocks from the site of TGI Friday’s.The Dallas Cowboys were on their way to being heralded as America’s Team, in part because of their good-looking players, and Dallas was also becoming known as a “stew zoo” because so many flight attendants were relocating there to work for Southwest, Braniff, and American Airlines.Women who would not be caught dead in an ordinary Dallas lounge pranced happily into Friday’s to cluster around tables and sip those innocent-tasting fruit drinks.“Up until then, a woman who went to a bar without a date was stigmatized,” said Jan Rogers, a much sought-after single woman of that era who went on to become the part-owner of a professional soccer team, the Dallas Sidekicks, and of a restaurant in Aspen.