The Surprisingly Undetestable Birth of TGI Friday's
May 14, 2011 1:57 PM   Subscribe

The Surprisingly Undetestable Birth of TGI Friday's In 1965, a young Manhattanite just “looking to meet girls” added some sawdust, fake Tiffany lamps and a coat of blue blue paint to the $5000 bar that became, nearly immediately, NY's first and most popular singles bar, and eventually, the progenitor of one of the US's most popular restaurants.
posted by Plemer (59 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
You could say he had a "flair" for the business.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 2:06 PM on May 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


More proof that nothing good ever came out of the Upper East Side.
posted by The Whelk at 2:08 PM on May 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wow never would have guessed the same guy was behind TGI Friday and Smith & Wollensky. P.j. Clark is still there but for some reason I associate it with the yuppie killer and douchbags of the highest order.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:12 PM on May 14, 2011


This story is like the Palin of chain restaurants.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:12 PM on May 14, 2011


It makes me sick that they'd get rid of a TGI Friday's and put up a Bakers Street Pub. At least they seem to have kept the original pole that held up the sign.
posted by jessssse at 2:15 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I first visited Shanghai on business years ago and saw a TGIF in the French Concession, a little part of me died.

When I saw the popularity of Starbucks in the city, the rest of me died.
posted by qwip at 2:16 PM on May 14, 2011


The surprisingly untestable origin of TGIFriday's

In November of 1964, on a cold clear night, an invisible unicorn whispered into the ear of Alan Stillman. "red and white stripes ... bacon ... cocktails ... you will name it after a weekday ...".
posted by idiopath at 2:16 PM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hard to believe there was ever a time when you could buy a building in Manhattan for only $5000.
posted by crunchland at 2:17 PM on May 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm in the middle of reading Imbibe! which is as much a history of drinking in America as it is a biography of Jerry P Thomas. The description of his bar in Manhattan in 1866 included things such as funhouse mirrors and giant caricatures drawn by the bartender himself.

So TGI Friday's wasn't so much about recapturing the atmosphere of the cocktail party as it was reintroducing the cocktail (now horribly disfigured by sugar and vodka) back into it's original habitat, the Bar. Or that is what it looks like, once you realize the rich history of cocktails and mixology (not a new term as ones would think) extends to back to pre Civil War US.

As for chains with a theme, one I still have respect for is Trader Vics, which was doing the rum thing a year after prohibition ended. And why rum? Because those distilleries had no problem flooding the US market with booze, since located in the caribbean, they kept operating throughout prohibition and rum itself doesn't need a 3-5 year wait such as Whisky before it can be sold, and since American's stopped legally importing gin, most of the businesses that made it closed as well.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:31 PM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hard to believe there was ever a time when you could buy a building in Manhattan for only $5000.

Like 35k in today's dollars and still unbelievable.
posted by empath at 2:34 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dammit, that article made me want to go to The Palm. I really like the steak au poivre at Smith & Wollensky, but I love the Palm. I usual get the porterhouse if they have it that day, start off with shrimp bruno, which is 3 large shrimp with a Dijon sauce, their amazing ceasar salad, and a plate of steamed sting beans with olive oil and garlic, add a plate of creamed spinach if there is somebody there who likes it.

Makes me miss working in Midtown, they had an "executive" lunch for something like 20 bucks.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:35 PM on May 14, 2011


You built up a cocktail list and you bounced from one place to the other. The cocktail parties were wild, by the way. But there was no public place for people between, say, twenty-three to thirty-seven years old, to meet.

This is totally unexpected and really fascinating.
posted by clockzero at 2:36 PM on May 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Five thousand dollars later, I had bought the premises with a short lease, and I was off and running.

Did he buy it or lease it? I think he bought the bar, the fixtures, and leased the space.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:37 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate TGIFridays but after reading this I find myself really liking the guy that created it.
Reading his story made me visualize all sorts of Pan AM-ey Catch Me if You Can awesomeness.

Good find Piemer!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:42 PM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


TGI F..Fr..Friday's? Surely not! The very name of the place assaults my sensibilty, delicate flower that I am, and I fear I shall have an attack of the vapors!

Heavens!
posted by kcds at 2:47 PM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I lived up the street from the original TGIF during the first decade of its life. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to eat or drink there -- or at Maxwell's Plum, Houlihan's or any of the other "original singles bars" that popped up on First Avenue. I just sat at my apt. window, pouring hate out at the Yuppie (the word hadn't been invented yet) singles, wishing the IRA would come by and lob grenades into these restaurants, to launch the class war and start the revolution, when the gutters would run red with the blood of these smug, rich, drunken, grinning fools, who had the gross, offensive, and overweening nerve to have ... regular jobs.
posted by Faze at 2:49 PM on May 14, 2011 [21 favorites]


He shed TGI Fridays pretty early, when there were only 12 or so of them... the TGI Fridays you all know and love nowadays probably isn't much like those 12 back in the 1970s.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 2:59 PM on May 14, 2011


So, really, it sounds like this guy invented the meat rack, basically. It's funny that the second place was in Memphis; I went to the Peabody Hotel's rooftop Friday happy hour in the mid-nineties because it sounded like fun--cocktails on the roof of the city's grand old hotel, nice view of the city and the river--without knowing that it was basically the mating ritual for the newly-revitalized downtown's yuppies. I ordered a Black Russian, and got it in a plastic glass with a big ol' lipstick print on the rim; when I pointed this out to the bartender, she rolled her eyes... and poured the drink from the used glass into another one. The local weekly, The Memphis Flyer, shortly thereafter wrote a hilarious takedown of the Peabody happy hour.

Also, Faze's comment above explains so much about him.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:36 PM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


TGI's is what it is, and what it is is not what it was when it really was an authentic neighbourhood joint invented to fill an authentic consumer need way before the term "concept restaurant" entered human conciousness, let alone the lexicon.

Similarly, Elephant & Castle was just a good, no big deal neighbourhood restaurant before it became part of the chain machine. I wince every time I see one and prefer to pretend the original isn't there whenever I happen to walk by. Horrifying.

Smith & Wollensky has a special place in my heart, though. My mom worked in the Random House building around the corner. I absolutely remember when it opened and was first getting popular, and I grew up quietly drawing pictures on the floor under the tables. It became a mainstay of publishing and remained, for decades, where you went be default before publishing left midtown on the way to it's deathbed.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:50 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah I wouldn't wish living on upper first on a dog.

Wait Elephant And Castle is a chain? I've only ever seen the one near St. vincent's corpse.
posted by The Whelk at 3:52 PM on May 14, 2011



Hard to believe there was ever a time when you could buy a building in Manhattan for only $5000.

Like 35k in today's dollars and still unbelievable.


That would have been him buying the business, not the building. Today you would sell a bar/restaurant in Manhattan for between $200,000 and $500,000 (of course there are both cheaper and more expensive businesses for sale, I'm thinking most are around that price range, though), depending on the size and the terms of the lease.

I used to live about ten blocks north of that TGIF's. I always wondered what a suburban restaurant was doing in Manhattan. Now I know.
posted by newpotato at 4:07 PM on May 14, 2011


The other thing is that my timing was exquisite, because I opened T.G.I. Friday’s the exact year the pill was invented.

Also of note: In 1966, the first baby-boomers came of age.

He pretty clearly says he "bought the premises [bar business] on a short lease", so he did not own the building.

If you think that I knew what I was doing, you are dead wrong.

This is really entertaining. He's able to be self-congratulatory in a very modest way.

A lot of people open up restaurants that fit their age level. It’s much easier for me to open up a restaurant that I understand and that my friends would go to, even today, than it is to open one up for thirty year-olds. I have no understanding of Michael’s new restaurant. I understand that it’s beautiful and the food is wonderful, but as to who it attracts and how — it’s completely foreign to me. It’s too loud and too dark for me and my friends.

I thought this was an interesting observation. He certainly debunks the idea of genius concept developer.
posted by dhartung at 4:22 PM on May 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


So he basically created the restaurant to get laid. I approve. Funny though, now it's hard to think of a less sexy place than Fridays.
posted by octothorpe at 4:27 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not sure why it's so hard for me to swallow that TGI Friday's wasn't born in a boardroom from the collective minds of midlevel marketing execs and focus-grouped into submission, but it is.

It's kind of like finding out that the Tea Party is an actual organic, grass roots uprising. Or that Twinkies grow on tress.
posted by contessa at 4:45 PM on May 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've heard the style of restaurant referred to as
Shit
Nailed
On
Walls
posted by exogenous at 4:48 PM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


His son's restaurant Quality Meats looks pretty good, of course it has the obligatory charcuterie. Also shellfish bouquets starting at $58 bucks.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:49 PM on May 14, 2011


nothing good ever came out of the Upper East Side

AKA The Land That Fun Forgot
posted by exogenous at 4:50 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently the five grand came from mom. (scroll down) Wonder if he shared his ulterior motives with her first.

Given the backstory of meat market one, the question then becomes whether Quality Meats is meant as some kind of weak salacious inside joke.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:06 PM on May 14, 2011


Please tell me more about New York, New Yorkers!
posted by Legomancer at 5:23 PM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Please tell me more about New York, New Yorkers!

Sure thing.

The 80s are what everyone pines for in their 20s.
The 60s are what everyone pines for in their 30s.
The 30s are what everyone pines for in their 40s.
The 50s are what everyone pines for in their 50s.
The 20s are what everyone pines for in their 60s.

The one thing everyone can agree on is that the current incarnation sucks big frosty nuts.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:42 PM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


manamuhna
posted by clavdivs at 6:25 PM on May 14, 2011


I'm waiting for New York City in the 2080s.

Really, you should see it, the canals are amazing.
posted by The Whelk at 6:35 PM on May 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


I actually have a fondness for greasy cheesy bar apps. But ven among the chain pubgrub places, TGIF's does them the worst, which is sad. We're not talking nuclear fission, we're taking wings.
posted by jonmc at 6:36 PM on May 14, 2011


I don't believe his assertions that there was "no such place" for women to go, or that he invented "the line" outside bars and clubs. I mean, come on - take a look at New York's late 50s/early 60s folk scene in Greenwich Village, which offered both those features. At best he reinvented it for the 70s by creating a faux environment with design cues that appealed to a specific target market.
posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whaddaya know, the first TGI Friday's in New Delhi was actually a sort of return to form, a revival of the original spirit of the place.

I should explain.

So back in '99-00, mrs g and I were living in India for a year and spending a lot of time in Delhi whether we wanted to or not (picking up and dropping off visiting friends, administrative chores, transiting from one part of the country to another, etc.). We got to know the city pretty well, and we eventually discovered these little upscale suburban "enclaves" in the southern part of the city that were packed with brand-new Western-style consumer outlets for the just-emerging Indian middle class.

We'd spend a day out in one of these enclaves from time to time to get a vaguely familiar meal or see a movie or two. We once hopped from theatre to theatre in the Hollywood-schlock cineplex in one of these enclaves for a full triple bill, primarily so we could sit for six hours in air-conditioned rooms; for this reason I can report that mistaken-as-gay humour of the sort at the centre of the Matthew Perry vehicle Three to Tango just kills with Indian audiences.

Anyway . . . one of these enclaves had a TGI Friday's. First in India, I assume. And though we'd never waste our time and money in a North American TGI Friday's, we figured one evening after a movie that some wings and jalapeno poppers and maybe, just maybe, half-decent draft beer would be as good as any way to end an afternoon. Even if it meant going to a goddamn TGI Friday's. In India.

So we walk in around 5pm on whatever weekday afternoon it was. Joint was rockin'. Every table full, boisterous conversations, big laughs, next-round's-on-me gestures fore and aft. Easily - easily - the hippest and loosest social scene we'd ever encountered in India.

Why? For the same exact reason, it turns out, as why it was such a hit on the Upper East Side in the '60s: if you were young, had some disposable income, and wanted to socialize over a cocktail with a mixed-gender crowd, this was the only establishment in town where you could readily do so. All the other bars in Delhi, at least in '99, were either divey joints for degenerates or colonial-throwback hotel bars for the top castes. The wings-and-draft strip-mall-chain crap-on-the-walls faux-casual vibe of TGI Friday's was exactly what Delhi needed just then.

And I'll say this: I've never, ever, had as interesting an evening at a strip-mall-chain faux-casual bar & grill as I did at the TGI Friday's in South Delhi.
posted by gompa at 7:48 PM on May 14, 2011 [124 favorites]


Hard to believe there was ever a time when you could buy a building in Manhattan for only $5000.

Like 35k in today's dollars and still unbelievable.


Just wait a few decades when people start to spread out because information is dirt cheap to transmit and receive. It'll be as expensive as Ouagadougou.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:27 PM on May 14, 2011


I don't believe his assertions that there was "no such place" for women to go, or that he invented "the line" outside bars and clubs. I mean, come on - take a look at New York's late 50s/early 60s folk scene in Greenwich Village, which offered both those features. At best he reinvented it for the 70s by creating a faux environment with design cues that appealed to a specific target market.

yeah I didn't buy it, I knew enough about the history of saloon-cocktail-punch culture to know, at best, he's correct in saying he made it okay for the set of that neighborhood and type.
posted by The Whelk at 9:39 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


not to get too into into the minutiae of mental maps and social situations but well into the 70s there was still the idea of a West Side Crowd and an East Side Crowd and the East Side crowd ...was much more conservative when it came to co-op drinking spots
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 PM on May 14, 2011


The TGI Friday's down on lower Broadway in the Financial District got shut down for being a major spot for cocaine sales. More like TGI Not Friday because you ain't seeing the judge til Monday morning.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 10:02 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I forgot the best line from that Gothamist story:

"It was common knowledge that after work, if you needed martinis, mozzarella sticks or marijuana, this was the place to go. It's the place with the three M's."

In conclusion: Don't believe the hype, Friday's is keeping it real.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 10:03 PM on May 14, 2011


Surprisingly entertaining and informative article. I think he's right about there not being anything like TGI in ye olde days, especially not in midtown Manhattan.
posted by nickyskye at 10:07 PM on May 14, 2011


The other thing is that my timing was exquisite, because I opened T.G.I. Friday’s the exact year the pill was invented.

Except, not. The FDA approved the first oral contraceptive in 1960. By November of 1961, it had been used by over 1 million women.

Still, there's no denying it was good fortune to open a singles bar in NY in 1965.
posted by crossoverman at 10:25 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


A really interesting article, thanks for sharing.

And to add to what gompa wrote, a funny Israeli backpacker who had befriended me once talked me into going on a 45 minute autorickshaw ride to one of those rich enclaves in south Delhi, to check out India's first McDonalds, which had opened only a week or two earlier.

Other than the red velvet ropes outside, and the interesting menu variations (Majarajah Mac - 100% mutton! Veg McNuggets with McImli (tamarind) sauce) it was eye-opening just what a status symbol it was for the up & coming young middle class kids, to be eating at McDonalds.

Cellphones - an expensive rarity then - were ostentatiously placed on tables, as guys in pressed blue jeans & t-shirts savoured the famous western food as if they were eating at a Michelin hatted restaurant, seemingly buoyed by the fact that a McBurger at 60-100 Rupees cost multiple times what you'd pay for a mouthgasmic biryani or curry from any regular restaurant. I didn't have the heart to shatter their illusions by pointing out that in the west, McDonalds isn't actually considered a delicacy by anybody, and certainly isn't remotely thought of as prestigious upper class fare.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:30 AM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


UbuRoivas  I didn't have the heart to shatter their illusions by pointing out that in the west, McDonalds isn't actually considered a delicacy by anybody, and certainly isn't remotely thought of as prestigious upper class fare.

Maybe they would have returned the favor by not shattering your illusions about their happy ignorance of the West.

In seriousness, fast food and casual dining restaurants in places like India obviously don't (yet) occupy the same space they do here. In India, taking your family to dinner at Pizza Hut was for some time much like taking your family to dinner at a high-end chain like Ruth's Chris Steak House is for most Americans, or like Olive Garden is for prom dates. Although the quality of the food was and probably still is better than what you get at the American equivalent, it wasn't so much about the food as it was about Going Out for Dinner at that place that's kind of fancy because it costs a fair bit.

This is changing rapidly as market expansion and the growing middle class mean more Indians are growing up with the idea that eating out is a religiously acceptable everyday occurrence, McDonalds is where you go for a quick lunch between classes and Pizza Hut is what you get at the mall, but as long as they remain associated with the West and the prices remain out of reach for almost all Indians, they're going to remain aspirational brands.

Anyway, I guarantee you at least one of the blue-jeaned guys you saw eating his McAloo Tikki back then had recently returned from his uncle's place in Potomac, Maryland or somewhere, where a combination of his well-informed class consciousness and fastidious racism might easily have kept him from stooping to eat at a McDonalds.
posted by hat at 5:40 AM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


t wasn't so much about the food as it was about Going Out for Dinner at that place that's kind of fancy because it costs a fair bit

Another quick note on the arrival of Western chains in the subcontinent: in 2000, when the McDonald's first opened on Connaught Place in the centre of Delhi, they had a sort of greeter at the door who would welcome the arriving nouveau richies and explain the McDonald's concept to them. In particular that you had to stand in line at the counter, carry your own food back to the table, and bring your garbage to the bin at the end. This was spun by the greeter, with exceeding cheer, as a delightful part of the whole exotic McDonald's experience.

This being at the higher end of the dining spectrum, it was bewildering to well-to-do Indians that you had to do this stuff yourself. Even the lowliest roadside dhaba has underlings to bring the food to the table.
posted by gompa at 8:08 AM on May 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


AKA The Land That Fun Forgot

AKA The Place Where Some People Actually Have To Get Up To Go To Work In The Morning, So They're Glad They Can Leave All The Non-Stop Carousing Crap To The Rest Of The City Because Really Does The Whole City Have To Be Billyburg Or The LES; I Mean Is It Not Enough That All The Noisy Hip Crowded Places Are A 15-Minute Train Ride Away; Do I Actually Have To Live Over Them To Earn The Respect Of My Fellow New Yorkers Too?

/folds arms in a huff
posted by Amanojaku at 1:30 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


gompa: I find the "how to eat at McDonalds" story a little surprising, because there had been a Wimpy burger chain store in Connaught Place for years before McDonalds arrived, and I think the local Nirula's fast food joint had a similar kind of model, from memory.

My theory would be that it wasn't so much that the burger chain concept was new, but rather that the customers needing-to-be-informed were new members of the aspirational classes, heading out for their first ever garbage meal. Or else maybe they were out of towners in the Big Smoke, who didn't yet have chain restaurants back in Chandigarh or Gwalior.

Wimpy always had a security guard out the front, to keep the riff-raff out. I can't remember whether he had a shotgun chained to his belt like the guards outside banks or not, but this photo suggests not.

My comment about people eating McDonalds as if it were gourmet food was overly patronising, admittedly. However, it also came from a memorable quote from a great doco on the India-chain restaurant experience (including a bit about the torching of KFC in Bangalore by nationalists) in which a Sikh yuppie, asked why he would choose to eat KFC when India has one of the world's greatest cuisines and there are so many fantastic local chicken recipes to enjoy, replied "We are interested in quality only! We are not settling for second best! KFC is providing 100% top notch quality!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:03 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This being at the higher end of the dining spectrum, it was bewildering to well-to-do Indians that you had to do this stuff yourself. Even the lowliest roadside dhaba has underlings to bring the food to the table.
Well, this was bewildering to me, when Burger King first arrived in Europe while I was a teen. Also: where were the knives and forks? I literally couldn't eat a burger first time I tried, it seemed so grotesque and disgusting to eat like that.
A Danish film-maker made a short with Andy Warhol eating a burger . I've always wondered about this: for someone American, or someone European born after 1982, it's just a man eating a burger and making silly faces. For someone like me, or the man who made the film, the image of a famous artist in a suit eating with his fingers is really, really exotic. Added to the cultural dissonance, like you describe the situation in Delhi, in 1982, Burger King was relatively expensive and mostly for preppy wannabe types here.
posted by mumimor at 2:46 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


a great doco on the India-chain restaurant experience
posted by UbuRoivas


This sounds interesting! What's the title?
posted by orme at 3:53 PM on May 15, 2011


I was trying my best to remember, but without any luck. I might go for a bushwalk & see if anything springs to mind.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:23 PM on May 15, 2011


Was it India Reborn - Mother India?
posted by unliteral at 7:20 PM on May 15, 2011


I remember growing up in the '90s, I had just slightly missed the point when the Pizza Hut near Red Square was the fanciest place to eat in Moscow (though it was still out of our price range). It seems unimaginable now, but that was definitely the sense everyone had at the time. I suspect a big part of it was the centralized quality control and standardization leading to a uniform (and heavily processed and engineered) product, which universally meant "awesome" before the arrival of the slow-food obsession with authenticity and hand-crafted workmanship. This is really the case for a lot of consumer goods: no one in a remote village values their grandma's hand-knitted shawls until they've become jaded middle-class consumers who can afford to take a stance against mass-produced blandness. I think Bourdieu talks about this somewhere.
posted by nasreddin at 8:25 PM on May 15, 2011


I think Bourdieu talks about this somewhere.

I have an index card file I through whenever I'm stuck writing a scene. The grubbiest, most dogeared says "People want what they can't have"
posted by The Whelk at 8:57 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Was it India Reborn - Mother India?

No, I don't think so, unless there are other episodes - I saw that one whose trailer you linked to, just the other week; the one I'm thinking of dates back a few years, and might have been produced by the Australian ABC or SBS network. Shame I can't think of a single keyword from the title, because googling "India fast food" turns up too much noise...
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:19 PM on May 15, 2011


Just wait a few decades when people start to spread out because information is dirt cheap to transmit and receive. It'll be as expensive as Ouagadougou.

You mean wait a few decades when people start to concentrate even more in densely populated urban areas because $20/gallon gas has rendered the suburbs economically non-viable? Well, maybe so, if only because with a population density of more than 17,000 / square mile Ougadougou might get pretty expensive.
posted by dersins at 12:01 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The first McDonalds opened in Priya Cinema Complex area - the cineplex that gompa mentions - where I'd seen the Matrix twice. Because Coca Cola was with McCann Erickson at the time, my field guys were stationed around the opening handing out coupons for a free Coke to "first day, first show" diners at the McDonalds. It was a joint promotion. This would have been late 1995 or sometime in 1996. The Connaught Place one came much later. Btw, in the Greater Kailash 1 M block market McDs afaik they just have servers and cleaner uppers - I think they dropped the self serve idea - as Ubu mentions, the Wimpy and of course, Nirula's (much better food) had already spoilt the Indian diner.

The TGIF opened before Feb 1997 (as I'd left the country by then) just further down the same shopping area - it is in Vasant Vihar (the south Delhi enclave everyone remembers) and one of the poshest with embassy staff, expatriates and even some embassies located there. The opening of the TGIF really felt like "yes, we'd arrived on the global map" ;p

I had my first Hurricane (iced tea and something alcoholic?) there. The drinks cost a lot, if I recall, but gompa's description is spot on.

I saw the opening of the 'great Indian market boom' during the nineties but not where it took off stratospherically since.

Thanks for the memories!
posted by infini at 6:55 AM on May 17, 2011


infini: yes, it was near the Priya cinema. I would've mentioned that but thought it wouldn't mean anything to anybody! Early 1996 is when I date it to.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:47 AM on May 18, 2011


This is a Mad Men episode waiting to happen.
posted by krunk at 11:36 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ubu/gompa/infini... I was here in Delhi between the arrival of cable TV and McDonalds. Both gompa and hat are correct in their own way - the McDonald's (CP is the one I remember) customers were a mixture of young upper middle class kids aspiring to the Archie Comics/MTV-fueled stereotypical Western lifestyle, and the NRI returnees dumbstruck at the sudden changes in post-liberalization Delhi and wanting to compare it to what they remember from the US.

The last twenty years have left Delhi almost unrecognizable in some ways. The most positive change, however, is that there are a lot of decent places for young professionals to hang out now.

My Dad was at McCann around that time too. His response to receiving the Mad Men DVD set for his birthday: "Oh God, I thought I had left all of that behind"
posted by vanar sena at 3:42 AM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


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