Friendly's becomes latest restaurant chain to file for bankruptcy during pandemic

The East Coast chain joins others like Ruby Tuesday's, California Pizza Kitchen and Chuck E. Cheese in filing for bankruptcy during the pandemic.
Image: Friendly's restaurant
Friendly's has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a sale of its remaining restaurants.John Greim / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

The parent company of Friendly’s restaurants has announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, becoming the latest restaurant chain damaged by the pandemic — but it may not be the end for Fribble lovers.

Friendly Ice Cream Corporation announced in a news release Sunday that it has filed for relief under Chapter 11 as part of a sale of "substantially all of its assets" to Amici Partners Group, LLC.

Friendly's plans to keep "nearly all" of Friendly's 130 corporate-owned and franchised locations open during the sale process and said in the release that Amici expects to "retain substantially all employees" at the corporate-owned Friendly's locations.

The Friendly's bankruptcy filing is the latest blow for the restaurant chain known for its family-friendly atmosphere, Fribble milkshakes and Cone Head sundaes.Boston Globe via Getty Images

"Unfortunately, like many restaurant businesses, our progress was suddenly interrupted by the catastrophic impact of COVID-19, which caused a decline in revenue as dine-in operations ceased for months and re-opened with limited capacity," George Michel, CEO of FIC Restaurants, said in the release.

"We believe the voluntary bankruptcy filing and planned sale to a new, deeply experienced restaurant group will enable Friendly’s to rebound from the pandemic as a stronger business, with the leadership and resources needed to continue to invest in the business and serve loyal patrons, as well as compete to win new customers over the long term."

The company listed estimated liabilities of $50 million to $100 million, and estimated assets of $1 million to $10 million in its bankruptcy filing, according to Bloomberg.

Friendly's is the latest chain to feel the effects of a pandemic that has devastated the restaurant industry. Ruby Tuesday filed for bankruptcy last month, which came after the parent company of Chuck E. Cheese announced in June that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, followed by California Pizza Kitchen filing for bankruptcy in July.

Luby's, the parent company of Fuddruckers, announced in September that it will be liquidating all of the burger chain's businesses. Denny's, Steak and Shake, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday's and several other casual restaurant chains have also announced a host of permanent store closures.

The Friendly's bankruptcy filing is the latest blow for the restaurant chain known for its family-friendly atmosphere, Fribble milkshakes and Cone Head sundaes that became a staple of the childhood of millions of '80s and '90s kids. The company also filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011 and has substantially decreased its number of locations in recent years.

Friendly's announced last year it was closing two dozen Northeast locations, leaving 174 restaurants remaining, according to the Boston Globe. There were once 850 locations nationwide in Friendly's heyday in 1988, according to MassLive.