Friendly's says an industry-wide shift in demographics, increased competition and consumer preferences has lead to the closure of several Neighborhood Restaurants in the Northeast, most of them in New York State.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

Officials with the parent company of Friendly's Neighborhood Restaurants say workers who are being displaced due to the weekend closing of close to two-dozen corporate-owned restaurants are being assisted to find opportunities in other locations or with severance payments.

The company says the employees of the East Main Street, Endicott location that abruptly closed April 7 and Upper Front Street that closed the following day, along with other workers at shuttered eateries were informed in-person of the decision to close the restaurants immediately.

Many customers found they had to look for somewhere else to dine when they encountered signs taped to the doors of the locations saying they had permanently closed.

FIC says dramatic changes to the economic environment in some of the geographic areas where Friendly's Restaurants have been a tradition tied into the decision to close those locations.

The Friendly's restaurants at the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City and on the Vestal Parkway closed in 2013.

A copy of the correspondence sent to franchisees was provided by the company:

"April 8, 2019

 

Dear Franchisees:

As we move into the second quarter of 2019, I want to again thank you for the valuable input and insights you’ve shared over the last few months as we accelerate efforts to reinvigorate the Friendly’s brand and chart a successful course forward in the face of shifting demographics and consumer preferences, increased competition, and rising costs. Amidst these industry-wide dynamics, our charge is to ensure our beloved brand not only remains relevant with existing audiences but continues to resonate with new generations of patrons and that our operations are structured to support long-term sustainability. 

While there’s much work ahead, we are encouraged by the momentum we’re generating. The energy and enthusiasm for the plans we unveiled at our February meeting was both gratifying and inspiring, as we seek to re-energize our marketing efforts with the addition of a new agency roster, refresh our menu, focus on delivery and catering options, and improve the overall restaurant experience for our customers. 

As we mentioned earlier this year, we initiated a strategic assessment of our corporate-owned restaurant footprint, with an eye toward ongoing viability and maximizing resource investment.  In today’s environment, it is incumbent upon all restaurant operators to engage in such a process, but particularly so for Friendly’s, which, as an established brand, has locations in geographic areas that have changed dramatically in some cases since those restaurants first opened. After a months-long evaluation and careful consideration, we have decided to close 23 corporate-owned restaurants, effective immediately. While this was a tough decision, we are confident it will best position the brand for a bright future. Especially difficult is the impact these closures will have on the locations’ wonderful employees, who we are working to support with opportunities in other locations or severance payments and other assistance.  

The closed locations include 14 restaurants in upstate New York, three in Massachusetts, three in Connecticut, two in New Hampshire and one in Maine. A full list is included at the end of this letter. Following these actions, Friendly’s will have 77 corporate-owned restaurants and 97 franchisee-owned restaurants.

Moving forward, we are committed to continuing to work closely with you to enhance the overall experience for our Friendly’s customers. Thank you again for your support and valuable input. 

As always, please contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

George"