A famous restaurant chain that was once the go-to place to eat is shuttering more doors across America. Here in New York, less than 2 dozen still remain.

Americans have seen the rise and fall of many popular chains in the wake of COVID-19. The Body Shop announced it's abrupt closure this month while JoAnn Fabrics declared bankruptcy.

Major restaurant chains have shared similar struggles, with franchises like Ruby Tuesday, the Ninety Nine, and TGI Friday's shuttering numerous locations in recent years. Unfortunately, another beloved restaurant is following suit after closing a major hub at Boston's Logan International Airport, which was the city's last-surviving location.

Sadly, more restaurants are set to close later this year.

Risk of Losing Friendly's This Year Increasing

Friendly's Restaurant Chain Files For Bankruptcy
Getty Images

Friendly's has been serving up tasty sundaes, Fribbles, burgers, supermelts and more since 1935. The chain had a chokehold on children, especially in the 80s and early 2000s, due to its super-affordable kiddie meals and this massive earworm of a jingle.

At its peak, there were over 850 Friendly's restaurants across the United States.

Like most heritage restaurant chains, Friendly's began struggling following the Great Recession of 2008 alongside rising costs and changing consumer behavior as Americans began shifting toward healthier options.

The chain's numbers dwindled to 424 locations when it first filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and abruptly closed an additional 63 locations. Friendly Ice Cream Corporation reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy the following January, according to the chain's official release.

The restaurant titan continued to struggle over the years and was later purchased by investors Amici Partners Group for $1.9 billion in 2021, following another bankruptcy filing.

Read More: America's Once Largest Retailer Closes Last Remaining NY Store

The nearly 90-year-old chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy again in November 2020 and blamed it on the "catastrophic impact" of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Massachusetts-based chain closed locations and their numbers dwindled to just 103 restaurants by early 2024 and plans include shuttering 36 more "underperforming" restaurants this year according to CBS News.

New Yorkers are hoping the closures won't affect any of the remaining 19 restaurants here in the state. The closest chains to Central New York include the restaurant in New Hartford and another in Liverpool.

It's been confirmed that 6 additional Massachusetts locations are shutting down in the cities of Dedham, Danvers, Marlboro, Mansfield, North Attleboro and Seekonk.

Why Is Friendly's Struggling

Radu Bighian
Radu Bighian

Friendly's began running into massive issues when it was sold in 2007 to Sun Capital Partners for $337.2 million, according to Business Analyst Amr Elharony. Shortly after the sale, the Great Recession of 2008 hit and forced the chain to make tough decisions.

However, issues began cracking the restaurateur's armor in 1987, a few years after the chain was acquired by Hershey for 164 million. Hershey wanted the stalwart chain to diversify to increase profits, but the chain lost money for the first time due to more chains popping up and ongoing labor shortages.

Friendly's has a history of being bought and sold throughout its nearly 90-year history, which you can view from the business watchdog, Company Man. The YouTuber has a series based on the rise and fall of massive companies like Kmart, Blockbuster, Blackberry, and more.

Friendly's is far from the only restaurant chain in danger of closing down forever, with Mashed warning beloved joints like Applebee's and Buffalo Wild Wings are in danger of going extinct this year.

While 2024 aims to be another tough year of losses, let's reflect on the local joints that closed forever last year.

13 Restaurants & Businesses That Closed in 2023

Retirement and consolidation are just some of the reasons we've lost several restaurants and businesses in Central New York in 2023.

Here are 13 locations that are no more.

Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams

What do you think? Will 2024 be the year Friendly's puts the final nail in the coffin or will it persevere because Americans won't let this chain die. Sound off in the comments below.

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Gallery Credit: Kadie Daye, Canva Image, Getty Image


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