Friendly’s Files for Bankruptcy

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The northeastern restaurant chain is the latest victim of the pandemic.

Friendly’s, a casual dining chain primarily located in the northeastern United States that’s known for its wide selection of specialty ice cream sundaes and burgers, has officially filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The announcement was made over the weekend by Friendly’s’ parent company, FIC Restaurants Inc., who said that the vast majority of the chain’s collective assets will be sold to the Amici Partners Group, a Connecticut firm made up of longtime restaurant investors.

At the height of its business in the 1980s, Friendly’s ran approximately 700 locations in the northeastern United States. Unfortunately, that has dropped over time; this is not the first time Friendly’s has filed for bankruptcy protection, doing so previously back in 2012. Today, only about 130 Friendly’s locations still remain in operation. The chain has been trying to reinvent itself for the modern diner, but the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic complicated matters further.

“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 wrote in a statement.

Friendly’s is attempting to get a mid-December date for its court hearing, and will be formulating a sale plan in the meantime. According to FIC Restaurants’ statement, the sale of the chain’s assets to Amici will allow most of the remaining 130 locations to continue operating, preserving the jobs of those who work for them.

“We believe the voluntary bankruptcy filing and planned sale to a new, deeply experienced restaurant group will enable Friendly’s to rebound from the pandemic as a stronger business, with the leadership and resources needed to continue to invest in the business and serve loyal patrons, as well as compete to win new customers over the long-term,” Michel said.

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