With our last issue, we began a series where we spotlight restaurants that are now offering a
specific low carb menu. Last time we spotlighted Ruby Tuesday... Watch for other restaurants
to be featured here in the future (Don Pablo's, Blimpie's, Hardee's, etc.)
On Tuesday, December 9th, T.G.I. Friday's debuted Phase I of their new Atkins-Approved Low Carb Menu.
Twenty-four hours later, we dined there to check it all out. We went to the Fairborn, Ohio location,
and considering this was only the 2nd night of their new menu, we found them to be surprisingly well informed.
The waiter provided us with an Atkins food pamphlet that all employees were given so they
might learn/report on the Atkins food correctly.
The manager, Penny, came out to introduce herself and
ask if we had any questions about their low carb fare. Anything we were unsure of, they looked up for
us, and left us with more information about the food items we didn't order.
So what did we have? (Click on food photos below to enlarge. They're the actual shots of our meals
Neil had the Sizzling Chicken with Broccoli and Cheese. Two juicy grilled chicken breast halves
come served over onions and peppers with tons of melted American and Mexican cheeses.
As listed, this gives you an Atkins Net Carb count of 17... a little high, but acceptable for
an entire meal, especially for Ongoing Weight Loss, or Maintenence phases of the Atkins plan.
You can cut 5 carbs by skipping the peppers and onions, and Neil skipped the onions, causing
him to cut about 4 carbs. So his meal netted him about 13 carbs. Most importantly, it was
Wishing to keep my carbs lower, I opted for the Tuna Salad Wraps. It's white Albacore with
water chestnuts and a touch of wasabi. It's accompanied by a small dish of sliced cucumbers
and a dish of sliced pineapple.
A quick check found that the pineapple is the canned variety
and even though it's the "in its own juice" variety, it has more carbs than
fresh pineapple, so I saved 4 carbs by skipping it and having them double the cucumber instead.
They served me Ranch dressing for dipping the cucumbers in, so in the end, this meal cost me
about 10 net carbs. Not bad, and a tasty meal.
They don't yet offer a low carb (or even sugar free dessert), but again, this is just their "Phase One."
I spoke at length to their manager and later their cook, about Atkins options in this regard.
They took the time to create a plate of low-sugar fruits for me and I appreciated the care they
They sliced a granny smith apple and arranged it around a centerpiece of fresh
strawberries — definitely doable for my phase of Atkins, and I appreciated the extra effort.
While this is not an official menu-offering, I'd guess most locations should be willing to serve
you some berries or other fruits until their low carb menu is in full swing.
So... let's look at how they market their new low carb fare, and their partnership with Atkins... Here's
what they have to say:
What is the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM?
The Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM is currently the #1 weight control program in
the world. The concept is rather simple: Your body burns two things for energy: carbs and fat. By controlling
the amount of carbohydrates consumed, you burn more fat for energy, which not only helps weight loss,
but reduces risk factors associated with major health problems.
NOTE: Many of the new Atkins® menu items were developed with the Induction Phase (first 14 days) in
mind, which limits Net Carbs to no more than 20g per day. After the induction phase (the first phase), you
gradually add Net Carbs back into your diet. (Employees are told that if guests have inquiries,
they can point them to www.atkins.com.)
Why has T.G.I. Friday's partnered with Atkins®?
One of our strategic goals is to change Guest perceptions of T.G.I. Friday's. We are traditionally known
as the place to gather for fun foods like big juicy Natural Angus Cheeseburgers, Fried Mozzarella and the
Triple Jack Combo. Many of our Guests today are seeking out and comparing low carb/healthier food options
when eating at restaurants. We recognize this trend and started to accomodate our Guests by offering
flavorful Salads like the Harvest Apple and Barbeque Chicken. Now we want to lead the low carb way with
special items that have received the Atkins® stamp of approval!
What makes the T.G.I. Friday's-Atkins®
- The Atkins name commands attention in the marketplace.
- Atkins is THE low carb authority.
- All T.G.I. Friday's low carb entrées are fully endorsed by Atkins.
- The T.G.I. Friday's-Atkins partnership will be supported by extensive marketing, including print and
They go on to explain that this is just the beginning:
For the initial launch of the T.G.I. Friday's and Atkins partnership, we simply modified some
of our current menu items. Next year, our Guests can look forward to completely new and exciting
entrées developed by T.G.I. Friday's and Atkins specifically for our menu!
So what does all this mean? It means this is a forward thinking restaurant with a desire to
meet the needs of their guests. It means they see the true value of this nutritional plan, rather
than seeing it as a "fad" or worse — an annoyance.
Restaurants like this deserve our patronage and our attention.
Two big thumbs up for T.G.I. Friday's!
Review content copyright © January 2004 Lora Ruffner and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo and inset food photos copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
T.G.I. Friday's logo and promotional/informational content:
Copyright © 2004 TGI Friday’s of Minnesota, Inc. and are licensed to Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc.