The restaurant in Needham has closed its doors.
With an announcement that the Friendly’s Ice Cream Corporation had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the Chestnut Street restaurant remained shuttered, a sign posted in the front door that read, “Thank you for your patronage. This store has permanently closed.”
A few employees could be seen gathered inside the restaurant, but the doors were locked.
Reached by telephone, the restaurant’s general manager said he could not comment but provided a public relations number for all media inquiries.
The Needham restaurant is one of 63 locations that have been closed, including the location nearby in Dedham and a total of 30 in Massachusetts, according to a news release issued this morning and posted on the PR Newswire Web site.
“After a thorough analysis of the profitability and contribution of all Friendly's locations, including the lease costs involved, the company made the difficult but necessary decision to close underperforming restaurants,” the news release stated. “These closures will help the company realize important cost savings and operational efficiencies that will improve its financial foundation so it can better serve all constituencies.”
The fact that the Needham restaurant was “underperforming” came as a shock to Needham Business Association board member Louise Condon.
“With the proximity to the and the traffic generally on Chestnut Street, they’ve always done a very good business, and it [the closure] comes as a surprise,” Condon said.
Needham Business Association board member Paul Good said he remembered the restaurant being in Needham when he moved to town in 1985.
“Friendly’s has been here for decades and been a place where families have been drawn to for all that time, so I think it’s really a shame that they’re closing,” Good said. “They’ve really been a staple of the town for multiple decades.”
Good said his family has been known to frequent the shop’s ice cream counter on hot summer days.
“From a business standpoint, it’s a very well known location, and our hope is that there will be some business that can fill that spot that replaces the services that Friendly’s provided to the town,” he said.
Selectman Moe Handel said he was “very sorry” to hear about the local restaurant closing.
“It’s been kind of a fixture of the community. I think they’ll be missed, especially by the people who work at the hospital but also by every kid in Needham who at one time or another has spent some time there,” Handel said. “It’s a loss of an old New England fixture. It’s sad for the town, and I’m sorry for their employees.”
What do you think about the Needham Friendly's closing its doors? Share your opinion and memories of the local restaurant in the comments below or e-mail a letter to the editor to Becca.Manning@patch.com.