Friendly’s was founded during the height of the Great Depression in 1935 by brothers Prestley and Curtis Blake in Springfield, Massachusetts. The ice cream shop began by selling double-dip cones for 5 cents.
In 1940 a second Friendly’s opened in West Springfield which included an expanded food menu. During WWII, the Blake’s closed the restaurant and reopened them in 1950.
By 1951, the company had 10 locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
By 1974, the company had more than 500 locations.
In 1979 Friendly’s was sold to Hershey Foods Corporation when the Blake brothers retired.
This purchase started a period of 30 years where the chain was bought and sold several times while trading publicly on the NASDAQ.
Friendly’s was aggressively franchised in the early 2000’s and now about 50% of the chain’s restaurants are franchised.
Harsh economic times caused Friendly’s to file for bankruptcy and close 63 of their locations in 2011. The company was sold to Sun Capital Partners, Inc. for $75 million. Restaurants are owned by Sun Capital and ice cream products sold in stores are now owned by Dean Foods, Inc.
Today Friendly’s has 380 restaurants across the East Coast of the United States. Friendly’s also distributes ice cream and frozen deserts through 7,500 retail locations including supermarkets.