Reporting Anthony Silva
BOSTON (CBS) – After years of falling sales, closing restaurants and bankruptcy, Friendly’s of Wilbraham is re-launching its iconic brand, which goes back almost 80 years.
10 Friendly’s locations in the Springfield and South Portland areas will sport refurbished interior design, and all locations will have new menus and retrained staff.
The new Friendly’s CEO, John McQuire, told WBZ NewRadio 1030 every employee was re-trained, but that the company had to part ways with staff who could not embrace the future and new direction of Friendly’s.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Anthony Silva Reports
McQuire, who came to Friendly’s from Panera Bread, said he understands what went wrong at Friendly’s.
As sales start to fall, he said some companies try short term tactics that often don’t work. Eventually, they get further and further away from who they are as a brand and what they’re good at. McQuire said that is what has happened to Friendly’s for nearly two decades.
He says the revamped restaurants have changed a number of popular food items. The hamburgers are now fresh, never frozen. Hard-scooped ice cream is now used in Fribbles. Haddock is back in the Fishamajig sandwiches.
McQuire says he wants his teams to focus on the quality of the food, the guests’ experience in the new Friendly’s, and each restaurant’s cleanliness and appearance.
Technomics food industry analyst Darren Sistano says he thinks McQuire’s 20 years of experience at Panera will go quite a long way toward making the Friendly’s brand more contemporary.
Friendly’s hopes to refurbish all its locations within 18 months.