Friendly’s restaurant chain files for bankruptcy amid COVID-19 crunch
Friendly’s, the iconic East Coast restaurant chain famous for its ice cream, has filed for bankruptcy after the coronavirus pandemic upended its turnaround plans.
The Massachusetts-based company announced the filing late Sunday alongside plans to sell itself to restaurant investment firm Amici Partners Group for about $2 million. Friendly’s said it expects almost all of its 130 locations to stay open through the bankruptcy process.
The 85-year-old chain had been working for about two years to revitalize its business by closing unprofitable restaurants, revamping its menu and focusing more on takeout and delivery — but the pandemic brought those efforts to a screeching halt, according to Friendly’s bankruptcy filings in Delaware.
“Unfortunately, like many restaurant businesses, our progress was suddenly interrupted by the catastrophic impact of COVID-19, which caused a decline in revenue as dine-in operations ceased for months and re-opened with limited capacity,” Friendly’s CEO George Michel said in a statement.
Despite the financial strain, all of Friendly’s nearly 1,700 employees are expected to keep their jobs after the chain is sold to Amici. The firm is affiliated with BRIX Holdings, a Dallas-based franchising operation whose portfolio includes frozen yogurt chain Red Mango and the Smoothie Factory juice bar brand.
Friendly’s has asked the bankruptcy court to schedule a mid-December hearing on the sale, which would close as soon as possible after it’s approved, the chain said in a news release.
Friendly’s is one of several big-name restaurant chains that have filed for bankruptcy as the coronavirus pandemic emptied dining rooms across the country. Ruby Tuesday, Chuck E. Cheese and Sizzler steakhouses have all entered Chapter 11 in recent months amid the COVID-19 crisis.
This is the second bankruptcy for Friendly’s, which is known for selling a wide range of ice cream flavors at its restaurants and in grocery stores. The company first filed for Chapter 11 in October 2011 and emerged from bankruptcy in January 2012 after closing dozens of restaurants.
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