Ray Blanchette Goes Undercover at TGI Fridays for Season Premiere of ‘Undercover Boss’

Ray Blanchette Undercover Boss

CBS On the season premiere of Undercover Boss, CEO Ray Blanchette goes undercover at TGI Fridays.

Tonight is the season premiere of Undercover Bossand for the first episode of the season, the CEO of TGI Fridays goes undercover to see the behind-the-scenes of what goes on at the restaurant chain.

TGI Fridays has been around since 1965, according to the CBS press release for the episode. The restaurant aims to bring people together for everyday celebrations where they can share the “Friday Feeling.” Now, there are more than 850 locations of TGI Fridays in more than 50 countries.

According to the episode synopsis, Blanchette “finds out if he can still stand the heat in the kitchen and behind the bar, as he goes undercover to cook up extra business at a couple of locations.”

Blanchette started working at TGI Fridays in Philadelphia in 1989 as a manager in training. He worked there for 18 years, working his way up to becoming President of the company; then, he left for a few years but has since returned to become the CEO.

Blanchette Looked At ‘Undercover Boss’ As an Opportunity

In an interview with CBS, Blanchette said that he was interested in going on the show as soon as he was approached by the TGI Fridays marketing team.

“It was an opportunity to go into the restaurants when we had just repurchased a bunch of franchised restaurants,” he said. “So, I thought, what better way to kind of get off to a running start than to get an honest, unvarnished assessment of the business?”

He also said in the interview that the process of putting on a disguise was interesting and probably challenging for his makeup artist, since he had never been in a situation like that before.

“They did all kinds of things to sort of protect the identity, which was just cool,” he said. “It was about two hours each morning and then another 45 minutes at night to get it back off. She had her whole system down, they know what they’re doing, they’re professionals.”

Blanchette Is An Introvert and Was Nervous About Filming the Show

According to an interview with Dallas News, Ray Blanchette identifies as an introvert, and he was nervous about filming the show, especially because it requires so much anonymity.

“To put on a costume and parade around is not something that comes very easily to me,” he told the newspaper.

He told CBS News that, while he typically acts a certain way, giving out “gold stars” and talking to the team members while at restaurants, it was very different to go in anonymously and try to get to know people.

“I was working with a guy in Philly in the kitchen which for me was like going home,” he said of one experience on the show. “It felt really comfortable, very natural. It was a restaurant that I had known for 30 years and I’m playing the stooge and I’ve got to act like I don’t know what I’m doing.”

The Episode Was Filmed in Fall 2019

This particular episode of Undercover Boss was filmed in the fall of 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dallas News. Obviously, new challenges have been brought to the restaurant industry since the beginning of the global pandemic, but this episode won’t dive into those.

Prior to the pandemic, Blanchette said that only 12 percent of the revenue earned by TGI Fridays was due to takeout orders, the Dallas News reported.

Now, the takeout business at TGI Fridays has grown 220 percent this year, though.

“You know what’s interesting?” Blanchette said to the outlet. “In 1989, I started on October 2. When I came back in 2018, it was on October 2. And this show is going to air on October 2.”

Blanchette’s episode of Undercover Boss takes place in Houston, where the CEO is home, the TGI Fridays’ Dallas headquarters as well as restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C.

The season 10 premiere of Undercover Boss airs on Friday, October 2, 2020 at 9 p.m. on CBS. Tune in to see Blanchette undercover in the TGI Fridays restaurants.

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