Friendlys closes abruptly in Springfield
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | January 07,2014
LEN EMERY PHOTO
Restaurant workers from Massachusetts pack a car with equipment as Friendly’s Restaurant at the Springfield Shopping Plaza closes its doors after more than 30 years of operation.
SPRINGFIELD — There was no ‘‘happy ending’’ at the Friendly’s restaurant in the Springfield Shopping Plaza.
The family restaurant abruptly closed its doors Sunday night, with no plans to reopen, and notified its employees Monday morning that they no longer had a job, said one employee’s daughter.
Alyssa Stevens, a spokesman for Friendly’s, said Monday the restaurant’s lease in the Springfield Shopping Plaza had expired, and that was the reason for the closing.
“Friendly’s Ice Cream, LLC., announced the closing of its Friendly’s location in Springfield, Vermont. The restaurant located at 2 Chester Road in the Springfield Shopping Plaza will cease operations, effective immediately.
‘‘This closing was due to the expiration of the restaurant’s lease. Friendly’s in Springfield values its guests and thanks them for their patronage,” read the brief statement.
A sign was posted on the front door of the restaurant, announcing it was closed.
Stevens said about 20 employees had lost their jobs as a result, and she said the people were free to apply for jobs at other Friendly’s Restaurants in the area — including restaurants in Brattleboro, Keene, N.H., and West Lebanon, N.H. Julia Cole has been a waitress at Friendly’s in Springfield for almost 30 years, her daughter Jeri Cole said. Her mother received a call Monday morning saying she didn’t have to come in to work and that the restaurant was closed.
The lack of notice was inhumane, said Jeri Cole, who herself used to be a waitress at the same restaurant as her mother.
Her mother, who she said is in her 60s, will not drive to West Lebanon or Keene or Brattleboro for a job at another Friendly’s restaurant. “What is she going to do?” she said.
Her mother liked the restaurant and liked working there, her daughter said. And the restaurant was busy, which makes its closing puzzling.
Her mother is stunned, she said, and very upset, but she’s going in to work today to help clean the restaurant, against her daughter’s advice.
“She doesn’t know what else to do,” she said.
Friendly’s has had financial troubles in recent years, and has closed dozens of restaurants. But Stevens said Monday’s closing was limited to the Springfield restaurant.
The Friendly’s restaurant had been located in the Springfield Shopping Plaza since 1986, according to Gene Guy, who sold a small chain of restaurants, the Idlenot Family Restaurants, to Friendly’s then.
The Idlenot Family Restaurants had originally been affiliated with the Springfield-based Idlenot Farm Dairy in North Springfield, with Guy, his brother, and Roland Aldrich of Idlenot Dairy owning the restaurant.
Guy, a Springfield businessman, said he was perplexed by the closing, because whenever he was in the restaurant it seemed busy.
James Young, a family spokesman for the Young family who owns Springfield Realty, which in turn owns the Springfield Shopping Plaza, didn’t return a call seeking comment.