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TGI open for another month

Longtime Mission Valley restaurant completing its history book

“We have a lot of regulars...Dave, Loyal, Coach, Morgan, Abraham, and Johnny-Boy."
“We have a lot of regulars...Dave, Loyal, Coach, Morgan, Abraham, and Johnny-Boy."

“This restaurant closes it doors on March 26,” Honorio Zarate said in an interview as he greeted patrons for happy hour this week.

Zarate is the service manager for the TGI Fridays restaurant on 403 Camino del Rio South.

TGI Tony started as a host in Mission Valley.

“My staff knows [that] we are closing next month,” Zarate said, “but they want to stay until I lock the doors for the last time that Sunday.”

“TGI-Tony” started as a host in Mission Valley when he was 17, then became a busser; now he is a bartender at the TGI Fridays in Woodland Hills. He worked at the Mission Valley location until 2016. He said he misses the “$350 tip nights,” but moreso the camaraderie of his coworkers — “hanging out with them in the parking lot after hours was the best,” Tony said. “They were my fam — I hope they will be okay.”

Tony said he learned how to "flair" in Mission Valley. “Flairing” encompasses the routines that Tom Cruise would perform as a bartender in the movie Cocktail. Tony juggled the bottles, rolled the shakers (on his arms), and lit up drinks as he prepped for Bar Champs, an annual competition that draws bartenders from TGI Fridays around the world. “I did not make it far in 2016, but I’ll be back.”

Zarate said the restaurant is closing because the lease for the building is expiring and the property owners wanted more than his restaurant could budget.

“Times have changed. Back in the 1980s–1990s there wasn’t too much competition,” Zarate said. “Now when you exit [from I-8 west to Camino del Rio South] you can see about 30 restaurants before you get to us.”

The location of the restaurant is hidden at the end of a long frontage road in a cul-de-sac; it can be seen best from Highway 163's northbound lanes.

”We still get a decent amount of repeat business,” Zarate said. “We have a lot of regulars...Dave, Loyal, Coach, Morgan, Abraham, and Johnny-Boy."

“What am I going to do on my birthdays?” pondered Johnny-Boy and recalled the “Happy Birthday” songs performed by the restaurant staff while they presented his complimentary birthday cakes. He said he will also miss the happy-hour drinks (Long Island Iced Teas and Electric Lemonades) and the "Endless Apps" (appetizers).

Zarate said there is a TGI Fridays in downtown San Diego owned by the same company — but “it’s not the same...this was the first TGI Fridays in San Diego that opened in the early 1980s.”

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“We have a lot of regulars...Dave, Loyal, Coach, Morgan, Abraham, and Johnny-Boy."
“We have a lot of regulars...Dave, Loyal, Coach, Morgan, Abraham, and Johnny-Boy."

“This restaurant closes it doors on March 26,” Honorio Zarate said in an interview as he greeted patrons for happy hour this week.

Zarate is the service manager for the TGI Fridays restaurant on 403 Camino del Rio South.

TGI Tony started as a host in Mission Valley.

“My staff knows [that] we are closing next month,” Zarate said, “but they want to stay until I lock the doors for the last time that Sunday.”

“TGI-Tony” started as a host in Mission Valley when he was 17, then became a busser; now he is a bartender at the TGI Fridays in Woodland Hills. He worked at the Mission Valley location until 2016. He said he misses the “$350 tip nights,” but moreso the camaraderie of his coworkers — “hanging out with them in the parking lot after hours was the best,” Tony said. “They were my fam — I hope they will be okay.”

Tony said he learned how to "flair" in Mission Valley. “Flairing” encompasses the routines that Tom Cruise would perform as a bartender in the movie Cocktail. Tony juggled the bottles, rolled the shakers (on his arms), and lit up drinks as he prepped for Bar Champs, an annual competition that draws bartenders from TGI Fridays around the world. “I did not make it far in 2016, but I’ll be back.”

Zarate said the restaurant is closing because the lease for the building is expiring and the property owners wanted more than his restaurant could budget.

“Times have changed. Back in the 1980s–1990s there wasn’t too much competition,” Zarate said. “Now when you exit [from I-8 west to Camino del Rio South] you can see about 30 restaurants before you get to us.”

The location of the restaurant is hidden at the end of a long frontage road in a cul-de-sac; it can be seen best from Highway 163's northbound lanes.

”We still get a decent amount of repeat business,” Zarate said. “We have a lot of regulars...Dave, Loyal, Coach, Morgan, Abraham, and Johnny-Boy."

“What am I going to do on my birthdays?” pondered Johnny-Boy and recalled the “Happy Birthday” songs performed by the restaurant staff while they presented his complimentary birthday cakes. He said he will also miss the happy-hour drinks (Long Island Iced Teas and Electric Lemonades) and the "Endless Apps" (appetizers).

Zarate said there is a TGI Fridays in downtown San Diego owned by the same company — but “it’s not the same...this was the first TGI Fridays in San Diego that opened in the early 1980s.”

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