Nostalgia Goes Belly-Up: Friendly's Files Chapter 11

Ice cream chain's model 'is no longer viable,' says expert
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2011 1:32 PM CDT
A sign is displayed on the door at Friendly's restaurant in Brunswick, Maine on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
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(Newser) – You may have let out a nostalgic, "Awwww" when you heard the news that ice cream chain Friendly's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning. "Oh, that's so sad. I love Friendly's," says one mother whose kids enjoy the same Fribble concoctions she did as a child. Since opening 75 years ago, the restaurant has created a lot of feel-good memories ("Ah! The watermelon slice!" says another former customer whose grandmother used to take her), but that may not be enough to keep it alive.

"Friendly's is an anachronism, really. It's a restaurant model that is no longer viable," explains one expert. The poor economy may have played a part in Friendly's demise, but it's also difficult to offer full service—as Friendly's does—and still compete with fast-food prices. And it doesn't help that Friendly's ranked last on a recent survey, not just on value and service, but on atmosphere. "They kind of look a little rundown," a customer, who rarely visits the chain anymore, tells NPR. "I mean, you get a sticky feeling when you go in there. Your elbows stick to the table." (Read more Friendly's stories.)

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