Carrollton, Texas, (April 22, 2009)— Keisuke Goto, a 26-year-old bartender from the Ueno-Chuodori T.G.I. Friday's restaurant in Tokyo, Japan was crowned "The Greatest T.G.I. Friday's Bartender in the World" at T.G.I. Friday's Worldwide Headquarters in Carrollton, Texas on Friday, following an intense finals competition between eight elite mixologists (bartenders) from around the globe.
Brian Zachau from Maple Grove, Minnesota was honored for the fifth straight year as the "Greatest T.G.I. Friday's Bartender in the United States."
"I cannot find the words to describe how I feel right now," said Goto after hearing his name announced as the winner. "It's a great honor to win." As for a critique of his own performance, Goto said, "Perfect!"
Nearly 8,000 Friday's bartenders from 60 countries entered this year's World Bartender Championship. The eight finalists exhibited their knowledge and showed off their flair through months of local, regional, super-regional, divisional and national competitions to reach last night's finals. Friday afternoon's freestyle segment gave the competitors the ultimate stage to show off their flair techniques of tossing, balancing, mixing cocktails and flipping bottles in the air to choreographed music.
"Each and every day and night, Friday's bartenders in 60 countries entertain our guests with their amazing personalities and world-class bartending skills," said Nick Shepherd, president and chief executive officer of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, parent of T.G.I. Friday's. "Today's competition is a testament to Friday's heritage of having the best mixologists in the world. These eight contestants here today represent the best-of-the-best."
The finalists competed throughout the week in a variety of skills tests, compulsory and speed rounds, where they demonstrated their mastery of bar mechanics, including technical knowledge and accuracy.
Goto received a $10,000 cash prize, bragging rights and a place in Friday's lore as well as a propeller engraved with his name to hang above his home Friday's bar. The propeller is a Friday's icon which signifies the bar as the engine that drives the restaurant's energy and atmosphere. Propellers hang above the bars in all 910 T.G.I. Friday's locations worldwide.
The World Bartender Championship represents Friday's longstanding heritage, knowledge, expertise and innovation in the beverage industry. The competition began back in the late 80s as a challenge between bartenders and has grown into a full representation of the Friday's brand, one of the most recognized brands in the world.
Originators of the now-famous, trend-setting, bottle tossing "flair" style of bartending, T.G.I. Friday's bartenders are world renowned for their accuracy and precision, their larger than life personalities and their award-winning ability to entertain guests around the world.
Before the competition, T.G.I. Friday's presented a check for $500,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, Friday's national fundraising organization of choice. The money was raised at local, regional and division bartender competitions throughout the year. T.G.I. Friday's has a national partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., the parent company of TGI Friday's Inc., is a privately held company owned by Minneapolis-based Carlson, a world leader in the hospitality, travel and marketing industries. As of April 2009, Carlson Restaurants Worldwide owns, operates, franchises or licenses approximately 1,000 restaurants in 60 countries. For more information, visit www.fridays.com.