Friendly's goes back to the future
The new head of Friendly's is a MA native who took over after two decades with Panera. He was on Boston Public Radio yesterday, discussing the changes Friendly's has made as it comes out of bankruptcy. He said they had identified the major issues behind the downhill slide that culminated in widespread closings in the last year or two: food quality, store cleanliness, personnel training/motivation.
They had expanded their menu too far, into foods they weren't good at making, like stir-fries. So they have cut back their menu to focus on the burgers, supermelts, ice cream, and other things they did well. They are in the process of refurbishing their stores and doing better, more vigilant, training and and continuing education for employees. It sounds like it may be worth trying Friendly's again, if you can find one that's still open.
Bit of trivia: the two brothers who founded the chain are still alive, in their upper 90's, and still in regular contact with the new management.
Great news if what is envisioned comes to pass. The original Friendly (no 's) could be just the thing when you wanted a certain kind of comfort food meal or just needed an ice cream on a hot summer day. Good memories, those.
A local store opened their remodel a few days ago, and it's pretty terrific. Very clean, very nostalgic, lots of fun touches -- they've embraced their "50s ice cream shop" heritage and the menu is blissfully slim and "just the hits" -- burgers, supermelts, sandwiches, and some salads. Their new hotdogs are pretty excellent -- I got the Italian Grinder dog, and it was a 9" dog on a toasted bun topped with pepperocini, pepperoni, crumbled potato chips, parmesan, and balsamic dressing, and it worked!
Wow, I didn't realize this place is still around at all. I remember my track team chanting for that to be our refuel dinner after a meet when the coach asked what we wanted :D
I'd love to be able to track one down next time in in the northeast.
I read a similar piece about this on Boston.com and now we are in Western Mass with lots of Friendly's we checked out the one on the Pittsfiled/Lenox line on Rte. 20. It was terrific. The same woman who greeted us, seated us and explained the new menu took and delivered our order. We opted for the throw back cheeseburg between two slices of white toast and cokes. Cooked to order, medium or slightly pink, and delicious. This was no mystery meat with the usual side effects of bloating or nausea I often get from fast food restaurants. The service was terrific and the restaurant was clean and busy. We're going to check out the senior breakfast next trip.