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Friendly’s Files for Bankruptcy – No Shock Here

October 5, 2011

A good friend of the MHK once said, “Friendly’s? Eh, not so much,” referring to the regional chain of casual restaurants and ice cream shops. She was, poignantly, describing the service she received on a recent visit to Friendly’s, and based on the handful of visits we have made to the chain ourselves, she was spot on. So we don’t know if anyone was too surprised when they filed for bankruptcy today, closing 63 of their restaurants, including six in the Albany area.

Apparently some people, based on Facebook postings and whatnot, have some sort of nostalgic connection to the eatery and are sad to see a lot of them go. As an outsider of sorts, not having grown up with Friendly’s and only visiting them in the past several years, our perspective is a bit different. Their food, to put it bluntly, is awful. Think Denny’s quality, and then think worse than that. Everything is over-salted but otherwise bland; it’s heavy food that tries to be comfort food but fails miserably. Consider the “Grilled Cheese Burger”: a giant burger sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Yikes. Now I know a lot of people go for the ice cream, and while it sparkles compared to the breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings, it’s not worth making a special trip to Friendly’s for it, in our humble opinion.

Back to our friend’s description of the service – she put forth this statement shortly before our first experience at Friendly’s, and we took her opinion with a grain of salt, not having been there ourselves. But after that first visit, we agreed in totality. This was many years ago, but I do remember our server being quite uninterested in anything or being remotely “friendly.” And while our subsequent experiences did not yield rude or unforgivable service, we never felt the staff embraced the Friendly’s spirit, if there is such a thing.

Nostalgia can only go so far. It seems that Friendly’s has been banking their business on people’s nostalgia for many years now, and it has finally come back to bite them in the behind. Lousy food and sub-par service can only take a restaurant so far – eventually changes need to be made, and it seems Friendly’s did not make them in time. But fear not, Friendly’s Fanatics – they are not going out of business; they are going to restructure and rebrand in an attempt to win back their customer base. And of course, the MHK will be there to see how it goes. So stay tuned.

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