Friendly's closes up shop at 23 Northeast locations
Friendly’s is facing less-than-friendly store closures.
Known for its ice cream and family-friendly restaurants, Massachusetts-based Friendly’s decided to close 23 more locations in the Northeast in an effort to recover from bankruptcy and reposition the brand in today’s competitive market, The Boston Globe and Mass Live reported.
Fourteen restaurant locations in upstate New York, three in Massachusetts, three in Connecticut, two in New Hampshire and one in Maine will be shut down. Friendly’s will hold 77 corporate-owned locations and 97 franchised-owned restaurants following these closures.
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“After a months-long evaluation and careful consideration, we have decided to close 23 corporate-owned restaurants, effective immediately,’’ CEO George Michel said in a letter to franchisees Monday, according to WNBF-TV. “While this was a tough decision, we are confident it will best position the brand for a bright future.’’
Friendly’s filed for bankruptcy in 2011. When it emerged from bankruptcy the following year, the company held 254 locations around the country and has been steadily closing up shop since then. Friendly’s has been working to revamp its menu and has been rolling out new services, including catering options and delivery service through DoorDash and Uber Eats.
“While there’s much work ahead, we are encouraged by the momentum we’re generating,” Michel reportedly wrote. “The energy and enthusiasm for the plans we unveiled at our February meeting was both gratifying and inspiring, as we seek to re-energize our marketing efforts with the addition of a new agency roster, refresh our menu, focus on delivery and catering options, and improve the overall restaurant experience for our customers.”
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In 2016, the owner of Friendly’s, Sun Capital, sold the ice cream manufacturing and supermarket sales sides of the business to Dean Foods Co. for $155 million. Dean Foods will produce Friendly’s ice cream for its restaurant locations under a 10-year contract.
Friendly’s was founded in 1935 by two brothers, Brothers S. Prestley and Curtis Blake, who operated a single storefront in Springfield, Massachusetts. When Hershey Foods sold the chain in 1988, Friendly’s had 850 locations in 15 states.