Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, best known for its Friendly's restaurant chain, was founded in 1935 in Springfield, Massachusetts by two young brothers, 18-year-old Curtis Blake and 20-year-old S. Prestley Blake. Their first shop served double-dip cones for 5 cents.
Friendly's is well known for its ice cream products. The restaurant serves a variety of sundaes, many in shapes, such as a clown with Reese's Pieces for eyes. The chain also serves a variety of milkshakes, including a thick milkshake known as a Fribble which is made with ice milk. In addition to these ice cream products, Friendly Ice Cream restaurants also offer a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner items, such as hamburgers, french fries, wraps and sandwiches.
Currently, more than 500 Friendly's restaurants can be found in the following 16 states along the East Coast of the United States: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. The company also manufactures ice cream for sale in thousands of supermarkets in 13 states.
The company has 16,000 employees, and George Condos is the president and CEO following the resignation of John L. Cutter on September 28, 2006.
Many Friendly's have an old-fashioned street clock at the entrance of the restaurant with the name of the town.
- In 1935, the Blake brothers open the first Friendly Ice Cream store in Springfield, MA.
- In 1940, the Blake brothers opened a second Friendly Ice Cream store in West Springfield, MA and added hamburgers to the menu.
- In 1943, Friendly Ice Cream closes its shops for the duration of WWII.
- By 1951, Friendly Ice Cream reaches 10 restaurant locations throughout Western Massachusetts and Connecticut.
- In 1960, the growing company moved its headquarters to Wilbraham, MA where it still resides today. This is also the location of a Friendly's manufacturing facility.
- In 1979, the Blake brothers retired and sold Friendly's to the Hershey Foods Corporation which continued to operate Friendly's as a wholly owned subsidiary.
- In September 1988, Friendly's became part of The Restaurant Company.
- In 1997, Friendly Ice Cream Corporation debuted on NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol FRND.
- In 1998, Kim Andereck was brought in as Vice President of Franchise Development and became instrumental in creating an aggressive franchise program for this 65 year-old chain that had always been 100% company-owned restaurants. Today, nearly 50% of the chain's restaurants are franchisee-owned.
- In June 2000, Friendly's switches over to the American stock exchange Amex trading under the symbol FRN.
- In June 2007, Friendly Appoints New President and CEO George Condos
- In August 2007, Friendly's was bought for $337 million by private investment firm Sun Capital Partners, Inc.
- Until 1989, the brand name and logo was Friendly Ice Cream (and thus Friendly Restaurants), although the store was commonly referred to as Friendly's. In 1989, the " 's " was officially added to make the name truly Friendly's.
- Friendly's restaurants at one time did not carry national-brand soft drinks. Instead, they served in-house analogues such as "Friendly Cola."
- The hamburgers at Friendly's were long made in the shape of a square because the early burgers were served on slices of bread. After the advent of round buns, someone asked Presley Blake why the chain still used square hamburger patties. Prestley said, "because we don't cut corners at Friendly's!" Friendly's burgers are no longer square.
- Hot dogs called Friendly franks were added in the '70s
- When they first opened, Friendly's only served ice cream. Burgers were added in the fall to keep up sales when in cold weather ice cream sales slowed.
- In 1999 Friendly's demanded The "Taste Bud" restaurant in Tannersville, PA remove the word "Friendly" from its slogan 'Friendly Family Restaurant.' In protest, several local businesses added the word "Friendly" to their signs. "Taste Bud" has since shut down.