Friendly's in Manchester to close

The Friendly’s on South Willow Street in Manchester will close on Nov. 10, 2019, according to company officials.

MANCHESTER — The Friendly’s on South Willow Street will be the latest of the chain’s restaurants to close.

The city location will close Nov. 10, following the shuttering of locations in Concord and Laconia on Sunday, according to a company statement. The location on Loudon Road in Concord remains open.

The chain has four remaining locations in New Hampshire: Concord, Conway, Merrimack and Rochester.

FIC Restaurants, Inc., which owns and operates Friendly’s, says shifting consumer demographics and market dynamics across the entire industry are part of the recent closings.

“It is incumbent on us to regularly evaluate our restaurant footprint with a focus on long-term viability and strategic resource investment as we work to re-invigorate the beloved Friendly’s brand,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, in some cases, this process results in the difficult decision to close under-performing locations that can no longer be sustained by the local market.”

In April, Friendly’s restaurants in Keene and Nashua were among 23 corporate locations to close.

But the news hasn’t been all bad for the chain in the past two years in the Granite State.

In 2017, the chain opened a new location at a former McDonald’s at 710 Milford Road in Merrimack. The 3,800-square-foot restaurant is part of the chain’s new design for Friendly’s, and includes a drive-thru for meals and ice cream.

Friendly’s, founded in Springfield, Mass., in 1935, will celebrate its 85 anniversary next year.

The chain between its corporate locations and franchises has about 250 stores in 15 states. The company has system-wide sales of over $250 million, according to its website.

Mike Somers, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association, said it’s a “challenging environment” for the restaurant business to find workers because of the low unemployment rate and to compete.

“I’ve been seeing new restaurants open regularly, so I am sure that is putting pressure on these businesses,” he said.

He did not have contact with the restaurant about the closings, but called the brand iconic.

“We’ve all been there, we’ve all had breakfast there,” he said.

Managers and staff at the Queen City location declined comment on the closing last Friday afternoon.

Employees at the closed locations will be offered transfers to other locations when possible, according to the statement.

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Saturday, November 16, 2019