A Plan To Save Friendly’s
In the summer of 1935, in Springfield, Mass., 20-year-old S. Prestley Blake and his 18-year-old brother, Curtis, opened their first Friendly Ice Cream Shop. They had a simple idea: Good ice cream at a good price. They charged a nickel for two scoops — while the bigger ice cream shops charged a dime.
So Friendly’s was born, and would eventually expand to 800 restaurants across 16 states. But despite the Fribble, shakes and fries, Friendly’s couldn’t keep up with the times. Food quality and service suffered, and soon the chain was in deep debt. In 2011, it filed for bankruptcy and closed 100 restaurants.
It’s a story of how the restaurant industry has changed — and about the decline of a Massachusetts institution. But a leaner, debt-free Friendly’s emerged from bankruptcy, and John Maguire, its new CEO, is hoping to write a new chapter in the Friendly’s story.
John Maguire, CEO Friendly’s.
Boston Globe: “On his first day, Maguire opened a meeting with a simple question: “How many of you guys have been to an Au Bon Pain?” With the exception of the delivery drivers, no one had. So that weekend Maguire showed up at the factory with his Ford Explorer and started loading the line workers in for a tour of the Au Bon Pains around Boston, at each stop pointing out what had become of their work. See how good your baked product looks on the shelf? he’d say. See how good your orange juice looks?”
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