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John Maguire has a plan to save Friendly’s

The ice cream chain’s new CEO is focused on fix-it — tastier Fribbles, faster service, cleaner restaurants — as he works to resuscitate a Massachusetts institution.

ONE AFTERNOON IN SUMMER 2012, the new CEO of Friendly’s Ice Cream, John Maguire, got a call from the company’s longtime public relations chief, Maura Tobias. The Today show was going to do a story, Tobias said, and it wasn’t going to be good news.

On the show, Consumer Reports would be releasing the results of a survey of nearly 48,000 customers of popular restaurant chains. Friendly’s would get low marks for both cleanliness and service, and an editor from the magazine was going to slam Friendly’s live, in front of 4.5 million viewers — many of whom were parents of young kids, the exact demographic the fresh-out-of-bankruptcy company needed most.

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