Friendly’s Files For Bankruptcy, Closing 30 Mass. Restaurants

BOSTON (CBS) – Friendly’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday morning and it’s shutting down several restaurants in Massachusetts.

As part of the chain’s financial restructuring, they will close 63 of their restaurants and ice cream parlors.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mark Katic reports

WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod reports

30 of them are in Massachusetts.

Read: List of closed Friendly’s restaurants

424 will remain open.

Several people were caught off guard by the closings and posted angry comments on Friendly’s Facebook page.

“The strategic decision to pursue a financial restructuring will allow us to proactively and quickly improve our financial position and ensure we have the resources to build a better and stronger Friendly’s,” Chief Executive Harsha Agadi said in a statement.

Generations of parents have taken their children to Friendly’s for ice cream, lunch, dinner, or breakfast.

Helen Smolak has been a waitress and supervisor at the Dedham store for 27 years.

She told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Wednesday never saw this coming.

“Yesterday we were busier than heck. It was almost like our way of saying goodbye,” she said.

Fighting back tears, Smolak said the customers and her co-workers are like family to her.

Friendly’s is encouraging employees from closed locations to apply at other restaurants that are still open.

Friendly’s is based in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.

  • Champers

    Nasty food anyway, if you could even call it that

    • gramps

      Friendly’s demise, Awful Awful…..


    • ann

      champers it pens where you live my town has nice frienilys in milford

  • yamstar1

    We checked out on Friendly’s about 3 years ago. Their menu prices went up for mediocre food and the ice cream was pumped with so much air I half expected it to float away. A company can’t cut so many corners and expect people to still show up.

  • Liss

    The icecream goes in a glass sunda dish. The only reason it is ‘pumped with air’ is so all the toppings people get on their sunda will actually go to the bottom of the dish and not stay on the top. Personally I think their food is very good. At the store near me they always have a half hour to an hour wait because they are just that good. You cannot take one poor experience at the store you went too and feel all the other stores are the same. The store can only run as good as its staff. Friendlys is actually really tasty and extremely cheap. They have a five dollar menu now and kids eat for a 1.99 on Wednesday. You can take a family out to eat for barely anything.

    • yamstar1

      My comment was not based on one visit. When my children were younger in the late 80’s early 90’s we’d visit a number of Firendly’s on a fairly regular basis. Over time through the mid 90’s and on the prices went up and the quality of food and ice cream went down. Although I will admit the servers were for the most part friendly and attentive. I will stick to my original comment that the overall dining experience deteriorated to the point that we just stopped going there. By the way it’s spelled sundae…

      • tsal

        Air or no air – it’s really a matter of individual taste and not a matter of fact. I love their ice cream, ice cream cakes and as teenager getting a Fribble at the one in Fresh Pond (before others went into the area) was the thing to do.

        I wonder if older posters here stopped going because they outgrew it? I know that’s why we stopped. My grandkids are getting to the age where they would enjoy it and we will go to the one that is nearby and is not closing. It is always crowded.

  • Deb

    You get rid of their best ice cream flavor(rocky road) and they go right down the toilet, go figure!?

  • vicky

    Perfect example of corporate takeovers ruining a good thing, ruining the product to make a profit and in the end getting a lot of people unemployed.

    I used to stop at many different branches while on the road and at home. The food went down hill and I stopped eating there after the stopped doing their burgers anything but well done and rubbery. I stopped getting ice cream there after they jacked up the prices higher than any of the local places

    When they redid some of the locations it was for the worse. Instead of the former open and ” friendly” they seemed to eliminate many of the booths and the seating seemed isolated. The take out counter was too small and there was very little room for getting ice cream and people coming to pay.

    Perfect example of people coming in and buying a business only to make themselves a profit and really having no clue of what they are doing and running it into the ground. They may blame it on the bad economic times but getting an ice cream cone should have been something inexpensive to lift the spirits but that doesn’t happen when you jack the prices way up.

    They also seemed to have closed some of the best locations in eastern MA.

    What Friendlies was was great burgers, great krinkle fries and great ice cream at a reasonable price. All of the food items were good. I started eating there in 1966 so I know what they were- the corporations that bought them never had a clue and never were as good. The last bunch pretty much flushed it down the toilet. Who’s idea was it anyway to ged rid of Toasted Almond Fudge anyway?

  • gigi

    so many fond memories throughout my youth of the Friendly’s eatery. I am glad I was able to experience it.

    • tsal

      gigi those were my thoughts also – I have wonderful memories with my family growing up and with my kids as they grew. I feel saddened by its decline.

      • gigi

        tsal – I agree with your other reply post as well. IMO -Friendly’s didnt try to be more than it was; simple food, icecream desserts, for a decent price to keep families together for one meal. It wasnt trying to pretend to be a 5 star menu at a $5 pricetag, it was simple burgers, grilled cheese, lots of fries, and a sundae or cone. I went with my mom and her older sisters and took my daughter for ice cream too. Even in college we would stop in to have Fribble races and the loser bowed out first because they couldnt handle the ‘freezer headache’ – LOL – good times!

      • tsal

        gigi – I had forgotten the fribble races :)) I remember one of my first dates in a car was to go out for a fribble. And then morning coffee with my friends and all of our kids before our kids were old enough to go to school. And of my dad at the Belmont Friendlies (long gone) when the carbonated bubbles pushed the straw up in a drink telling my kids it was a mouse. They now tell their own kids the same thing.

  • Gene

    I am saddened also by the loss of this eatery. But as pointed out earlier the quality was cut long ago. I will never forgot when they started giving half cherries on the sundaes and the cheapest cherries with no flavor. Whipped cream with no taste and charging for nuts. This is an Ice Cream place. They should of kept things simple and never mind the dinners for $10. The one here in Fitchburg was the worst Friendly’s ever. Too bad.

  • Stanley11

    Where the heck am I going to get a Reese’s Pieces Sundae now?????

  • Wes Welker Fan

    This is a bunch of Bologna! They’re closing the Billerica store, NO WAY!!!!! It is always packed and busy and the staff is AWESOME!!!!! The AG should look into this, this has scam written all over it. Wall Street Greed trying to destroy anoher New England Icon!!!!!

  • Phil

    You’re going to see a lot more eateries going under in this totalitarian economy.
    It’s going to be a big time hurt for the people of massachusetts seeing it’s one of our biggest industries.

  • RITA


  • Anne

    Started going to Friendly’s over 50 years ago. My kids went and then my grandchildren. Although I agree the food is not what is was, and they could have stayed out of the meal business I found this a decent local alternative to other fast food hamburger places such as McDonalds, Wendys, Burger King. I think the meat beinging cooked more well done was not them but the fact that almost no where can you get a rare hamburger anymore with the threat of food born illness. At least the one in Holden is still open.

    • Italo

      I think of Friendly’s, I think of the one that used to stand at the site of today’s North Shore Community College at the curve of The Lynnway in Lynn on the way to Lynn Beach and Nahant.

      My family used to take after-dinner summer drives (remember THOSE with your parents?) up to Nahant or Swampscott and, on the way home, we always stopped at the takeout window of the Lynn Friendly’s for sundaes for mom and me, made with their favorite ice-cream flavor of ours — black raspberry! And man, Friendly’s sundaes were huge, and their whipped cream and hot fudge rocked to this kid.. ;)

      I also always think of vacation breakfasts or post-back-to-school shopping burger and fries plates at Friendly’s. Sad to see things and times change, but they eventually do.. :-<

      • tsal

        Italo – you brought me a wonderful morning smile of special memories of my own. I suspect there are several generations whose memories revolve in some fashion around Friendlies.

  • Jillanie125

    omg i love Friendly’s sosososo much it’s the only ice cream place near me I don’t want it to close! :(

  • FireGuyFrank

    It is a sign of the times in Massachusetts. More businesses will close, too, I’m afraid.

    Folks don’t have money to spend as it is, and if they do splurge, there has to be value.

    • tsal

      Hi Frank – I would say the same thing except that the very high priced restaurants in my area are always packed. As I think about it, perhaps the comment should say “average” folks don’t have the money to spend – the wealthy sure do.

  • web

    Friendly’s was acquired by Sun Capital Partners in Aug 2007, a merger was just approved this past Aug 2011. Buyouts, takeovers and corporate mergers are the end of small family owned business, and the business many people remember.

    • tsal

      They are the future if we continue to support only the wealth in this country so we had better get used to it.

  • Denise

    Personally I’m not a big fan of Friendly’s – I don’t find the service level to be only enough so I don’t get up and walk out the times I’ve actually eaten in any of the locations.

    However, they do have their good points … for example the one in Gardner is doing a benefit tonight between 5 & 8 and A percentage of all sales will be donated by Friendly’s to support the programs and services offered by MVOC.

  • bill m.

    i went to friendley’s sunday with the grandchildren……. it was excellent

  • emom

    I beleive it depends on which resturaunt you visit,, I have been to many and only go back to a few,, What I am totally surprised by is them closing ones that do a wonderful job , are packed all the timne and in areas which gets tons of traffic.. The hanover mall one is closing and it is always filled every day every weekend its packed and itwould have been so busy this christmas as it has been for decades… I am so glad I have took my kid to them and welove the food.. thankfully many will stay open, sadly so many will be out of work, I hope they find something real soon. Bring back the lemon merienge ice cream it was so good. many still have the3 walk up window to get food and ice cream.. Maybe the corporate greedy employee’s need to take a huge pay cut and stop bleeding the company dry… maybe things would work out better… givetothe waitress, cooks, those that truely put their heart & soul into their work to make their resturant good.. Too many get raked over the coals and made to work far to hard to gain revenue for corporate monguls,,,,,, it needs to change to make it better.

    • tsal

      well said emom – that’s what the “occupy” movement is all about – time to recognize CEO’s don’t do the work all by themselves

  • Dave_D

    Sad day! Friendly’s is one of the few good things about this God-forsaken part of the country. The other good thing is that the NY Yankees visit here for several games a year.

  • taxedout

    Another business down the tubes, and more jobs lost. Thank God the gov and his buddy are working on getting us some jobs real soon. It will be real soon won’t it????4 more years!!!!

  • Jack Hines

    Friendlies isn’t so friendly anymore! The CEO’s might take advice from Mitt Rommey on filing bankruptcy and restructuring their business. Close some, lay off workers, keep workers benefits, giving short notices and than try to sell whatever they can to recoup their failed CEO’s mistakes.
    It isn’t the workers who work at pi-on wages and need to manage on tips to survive that brings this downfall. I don’t believe those 1% er’ s at the top of friendly’s will suffer any monetary loss and will continue to collect in their wages and reap in their bonus’s. Those who have be fortunate to keep their jobs will not agree to this post but am happy for them that they have work. but they must realize that they too could see the hand writing on the wall.
    Good luck to those who have retained their jobs and to those who got caught in whiplash and now needs to seek new employment.

  • MovieStarPlanet Tips

    I hardly comment, however after looking at a few of the comments here %BLOGTITLE%. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Is it only me or do a few of these remarks come across like they are written by brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are posting at additional places, I’d like to follow you. Could you list of every one of your social sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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