SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Friendly's has closed five more of its restaurants in Western Massachusetts.
After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, it didn't take long for the chain to deal with the aftermath. On Monday, the doors were locked and the wooden shutters were pulled closed at five friendly's locations in Western Massachusetts.
"Very surprised because they are always busy when we were in here, you know, they were always busy," said Carl White of Springfield who ate at the Page Boulevard location several times a week.
But it seems like they weren't busy enough. In a written statement, the company cited underperforming restaurants and a failure to reach a leasing agreement as reasons for the closings.
"It's been an established company in this area for generations, and to see the Friendly's go through the turmoil that so many others businesses have been going through over the past few years it's pretty sad," said Mark Ballou of Mansfield, CT who stopped by the Page Boulevard location to buy a milkshake.
The Wilbraham-based chain has closed more than 60 locations across the east coast. And those who grew up going to Friendly's told 22News they fear the several closings could be the start of the end to an era.
"It makes me feel very sad to this one closing because we liked it very much and I've been coming here for a long time," said Priscilla Muller of Springfield of the restaurant that's been around for 75 years.
Lisa Galpert told 22News she didn't expect the closings to happen as soon as they did, "it's too bad I grew up here and Friendly's has been like a landmark so it's really too bad," said Galpert of Agawam.
Last December, in an effort to get out of bankruptcy, Friendly's asked a Delaware bankruptcy court judge for a chance to hold a bidding auction. One of which was cancelled days before the deadline after the company received no offers from lenders or firms willing to take on a reported $300 million debt.
Sun Capital, the private equity firm that owned Friendly's before it filed for bankruptcy, bought back the chain. Friendly's has not confirmed how many employees were affected as a result of the closings; they also declined our request for an on camera interview.
Closed Restaurant Locations as of Sunday January, 8, 2012:
Holyoke Mall Location
240 Stockbridge Rd, Great Barrington, MA 01230
732 Bliss Road Longmeadow, MA 01106
430 Cooley Street Springfield, MA 01128
1060 Page Boulevard Springfield, MA 01104