ENFIELD, Conn. — S. Prestley Blake had one rule as he walked into his local Friendly’s.
“Don’t tell anyone who we are,” he grumbled. “It’s a pain in the butt.”
I wasn’t about to quibble with my elders, especially when one of them is 99-year-old Blake, who started the ice cream chain with his younger brother Curtis with a shop in Springfield in 1935.
Last we heard from Prestley Blake it was 2007, and the last place he could be found was at a Friendly’s. He was unhappy with how the new owner was treating his “baby,” which had become a ragtag collection of dirty restaurants with poorly trained staff and bland food.
To force change, Blake had snatched up Friendly’s stock to become the company’s single largest shareholder and waged what became an $11 million, seven-year war to oust then-chief executive Donald Smith.
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