From the Wall Street Journal…
The Friendly’s restaurant chain is preparing for a possible Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and potential sale, said people familiar with the matter.
Friendly Ice Cream Corp., which employs roughly 10,000 people and operates more than 500 restaurants known for sundaes and hamburgers, could seek protection from creditors as soon as next week, the people said.
The Wilbraham, Mass.-based company would then try to sell itself through a bankruptcy auction, the people said.
I grew up with Friendly’s. I was raised in East Longmeadow, the next town over from Wilbraham. The founders of Friendly’s – Curt and Presley Blake – were members of Longmeadow Country Club, where my dad was the golf pro for about twenty years. A bunch of my friends worked there. Fribbles and Friendly’s burgers, served on grilled bread with crinkle cut fries are part my childhood.
And of course, the ice cream. My dad liked orange and watermelon sherbet. My mom liked Butter Brickle. In the 1970s, they were great.
So what the heck happened to Friendly’s?
In recent years, Friendly’s has tried several schemes to drum up new revenue. In August of 2009, it opened the first of a planned chain of fast food restaurants called Friendly’s Express, assumedly a bid to capture business from customers hurt by the recession. But Friendly’s has been hampered by consistent complaints about service and food quality. A recent ranking of medium-sized restaurant chains by Consumer Reports placed Friendly’s dead last, with a score of 68, matched only by Buffalo Wild Wings and Joe’s Crab Shack.
I are at Friend;y’s a few months ago in Florida. The food wasn’t great and neither was the service. That’s true. If you don’t have that working at a restaurant, what’s left? It’s not the décor or ambience at Friendly’s. Someone needs to manage the company properly. Get back to basics. Make good food and set high standards for service. Save the brand.