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Friendly’s closes 23 more locations in the Northeast, including in Massachusetts

Friendly’s has been a New England fixture for more than 70 years.
Friendly’s has been a New England fixture for more than 70 years.(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File)

Friendly’s has closed 23 more restaurants around the Northeast, including three in the company’s home state of Massachusetts, according to a letter sent to franchisees on Monday.

“After a months-long evaluation and careful consideration, we have decided to close 23 corporate-owned restaurants, effective immediately,” CEO George Michel said in the letter. “While this was a tough decision, we are confident it will best position the brand for a bright future.”

In Massachusetts, the restaurants that have closed are in Framingham (Temple Street), Holden, and Waltham. The other locations that are closing include 14 restaurants in upstate New York, three in Connecticut, two in New Hampshire, and one in Maine.

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Michel said in the letter that the company “has locations in geographic areas that have changed dramatically in some cases since those restaurants first opened.”

Workers at the restaurants being closed will be offered jobs at other Friendly’s locations, or they will severance payments and other assistance, Michel said in the letter.

The news also comes after six of the chain’s restaurants, including five in New England, were shuttered late last year.

After the closings, Friendly’s will have 174 restaurants — 77 corporate-owned and 97 franchisee-owned.

Friendly’s opened in 1935 in Springfield, and moved its headquarters to the nearby town of Wilbraham in 1960.

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The following is the full letter Michel sent to franchisees, as provided to the Globe:

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.

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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.

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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