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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Friendly's Impossible

I've been watching "Restaurant Impossible" on the Food Network too much.  When I read about Friendly's declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy, I had to stop by to check it out.

I arrived around 7:20 on a recent morning.  There were only about five other diners in the building, and I was the youngest of the "crowd."  The lack of customers during prime morning breakfast time is a sign something is wrong.

I was seated and given a menu quickly.  My choice, a western omlette and a Diet Coke.  The drink came first, and the omlette wasn't far behind.

The omlette was fluffy.  The onions and peppers weren't overpowering.  However, the ham was lacking.  The potatoes were hot and crispy.  The toast wasn't overly browned and wasn't overly buttered-- the way I like it.  The bottom line is the food was that typical, bland, pre fabricated family chain restaurant stuff.  It wasn't bad, but it didn't win raves either, and the food didn't provide much of a reason to come back.

As for the decor, it looks like the restaurant was recently refreshed, and boy, they are really fond of plaid here.  As I was looking around, I wondered what Robert Irvine would do, and I was stumped.  It was clean and in good shape.

The help was, pardon the pun, friendly, and showed no signs of the kick in the gut from the company declaring bankruptcy.  Service was prompt and with a smile.

I did look at the rest of the menu, and that's where I think Chef Irvine would make the most changes.  They need items that are NOT covered in cheese and gravy.

Prices?  Omlette, drink and tip came to $12, and that's a lot to spend on breakfast for one, especially when Subway is running its $5 Anytober promotion.  The Diet Coke alone was $2.29.  Are you kidding me?  That's robbery.

I tried to think of the last time I ate at Friendly's and it was after a late night freelance job in Corning, NY a few years ago.  I don't remember what I had, but I do recall it was one of those all encompassing things, complete with the Happy Ending Sundae.  Dinners at Friendly's are easy to forget.

The Boston Globe did a big piece on Friendly's Thursday.  It noted how the chain didn't score well, 10th out of 12, in a national survey that looked at food, value, and reputation.  The company is said to be working on a new look, including modern decor and healthier menu items.

As we know, it's tough to remain viable after declaring Chapter 11.  Friendly's has been around for a long time, so a lot of people apparently like it, especially the ice cream, and it would be sad to see it go.