Emerging Brands

Friendly's plans a fast-casual entry

A scaled-down riff called Friendly's Cafe will fire up its kitchen next month.
Rendering courtesy of Friendly's

The venerable Friendly’s family dining chain will give the fast-casual market a try with the opening next month of a scaled-down limited-service riff called Friendly’s Café.

The 2,700-sq.-ft. prototype will sport just 45 seats and a number of features aimed at facilitating to-go business, including a designated pickup area for takeout orders and four parking spaces reserved for curbside pickup.  

Dine-in patrons will have the option of ordering at a counter or from their tables via a QR code menu, according to a chain representative. In either instance, runners bring the meals to the seated guests.

A glimpse at Friendly's Café

Friendly’s has yet to reveal the menu, but the representative indicated it would incorporate “beloved” chain signatures as well as ice cream. The brand is known for its burgers, breakfast items and a frappe-type drink called the Fribble.

The first Friendly’s Café is scheduled for a soft opening in the first week of February in Westfield, Mass., and a grand opening in March. The mother chain was founded in Massachusetts, which remains one of its strongholds.

The venture is part of an effort by new owner Amici Partners Group to rejuvenate the Friendly’s brand, one of the oldest in the industry. It was founded in 1935.

Last summer, two Friendly’s units were co-branded with stations of Smoothie Factory Juice Bar, a beverage-focused brand owned by Brix Holdings. Brix is part of the Amici group.



Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Red Lobster gives private equity another black eye

The Bottom Line: The role a giant sale-leaseback had in the bankruptcy filing of the seafood chain has drawn more criticism of the investment firms' financial engineering. The criticism is well-earned.


Beverage chains are taking off as consumers shift their drink preferences

The Bottom Line: Some of the fastest-growing chains in the U.S. push drinks, even as sales at traditional concepts lag in growing delivery and takeout business. How can traditional restaurants get in on the action?


Brands need to think creatively as the industry heads into a value war

The Bottom Line: Giving customers meal options they can afford will be key to generating traffic this year. But make sure those offers can generate a profit.


More from our partners