More than a year after filing for bankruptcy, a New England restaurant staple is reinventing itself by going back to its roots. Friendly’s, the casual dining chain known for its burgers and ice cream, is hoping to gain a competitive edge with a transformation that both draws on its glory days and meets new dining standards.
MassLive.com details the company’s makeover, a process that thus far involves 10 of its restaurants, with another 30 set to go under the knife this year. For a company that was founded in 1935, the process is not a simple one, as you can imagine.
“We really focus on the five senses,” Friendly Ice Cream LLC CEO John M. Maguire told MassLive.com of the chain’s renovation.
After nearly 40 years, here’s a look at how Friendly’s is undergoing this five-pronged makeover, one sense at a time.
When you walk into revamped Friendly’s, you will be greeted with the smell of fresh red-velvet waffle cones. The scent comes from a new item on the menu and will waft freely from the soda fountain, placed strategically at the restaurant’s entrance.
Along with the red-velvet waffle cones, Friendly’s is upping their quality of food with mention additions and substitutions. The chain is switching from frozen hamburger patties to fresh ones, adding a “build your own burger” option to menus, which patrons can fill out on a tiny form.
Moreover, pricier haddock will be the fish of choice in Friendly’s Fishamajig sandwich, replacing pollock, while hard ice cream will replace soft serve in milkshakes.
There will be new “slinky dog” hot dogs on the menu, and while I have no idea what that means, it did conjure up images from “Toy Story.”
Most notably, portions are getting bigger, prices are staying the same and fried chicken dinner is once again back on the table.
The tunes pumping through the Friendly’s speakers are an important part of the chain’s overhaul. Drawing on the Baby Boomer generation, Maguire noted, “We have a lot of the big bands that our customers might remember from when Friendly’s got its start. But we have some contemporary artists that have the same feel, as well.”
The contemporary artist he named? Michael Buble, of course.
Perhaps most obviously, the look of Friendly’s is changing. Along with the complete facelift, retro signs channeling the good old days will outfit the renovated restaurants.
As in, the human touch. All Friendly’s employees had to re-interview for their jobs, which now have wacky new titles straight out of a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory: Soda fountain workers are now “scoopologists” and servers are “memory-makers.”
If that implies the new Friendly’s experience is memorable, we’ll take it.