Orlando's Santiago Emeric Wins Title of T.G.I. Friday's® Southeast Division Bartender Champion

Orlando, FL | December 18, 2009

Santiago Emeric of the Sea World/Orlando T.G.I. Friday's restaurant defeated other top Larger than Life mixologists from the Southeast last week to advance to the finals of T.G.I. Friday's® World Bartender Championship. Emeric will be making his first trip to the finals where he will face nine other finalists from around the globe for the title of "Greatest T.G.I. Friday's Bartender in the World." All funds raised from the annual event benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

"Ever since I went to my first flair bartender competition as a spectator three years ago, I knew I wanted to be on that stage," said Southeast Division champion Emeric. "It takes a lot of dedication and time to know all the drinks and flair tricks. I can't wait to get on the biggest stage of all - the T.G.I. Friday's World Bartender Championship."

The divisional competition consisted of three segments - compulsory, speed round and freestyle - as well as a comprehensive skill test. The 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. The mixologists who competed in the Southeast Division competition were finalists from local and regional competitions held earlier this fall.

Overall, more than 8,000 Friday's® bartenders from 60 countries are testing their knowledge and skills in their quest to reach the finals of the World Bartender Championship which will be held in early 2010.

The competition, which represents Friday's heritage, knowledge, expertise and innovation in the beverage industry, 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.

For additional information about the T.G.I. Friday's World Bartender Championship, visit www.worldbtc.com.

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