Developer Eyes Restaurant At Former Friendly’s Location

P-J file photo

A local developer eyeing the former Friendly’s in Jamestown might include the rehiring of past employees.

Plans are in place for a new restaurant at the 10 S. Main St. property in Brooklyn Square. Friendly’s closed its longtime Jamestown location, in addition to dozens of others in five states, without warning in early April.

News of the planned eatery was announced at a meeting of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency this week.

Mark Geise, CEO of the county IDA, confirmed that an application for a $55,000 loan through the Chautauqua Revolving Loan Fund had been submitted. The fund is eligible for businesses for real estate, machinery, equipment and working capital, and must be used to create and retain jobs.

The IDA approved the loan to the local developer.

“It was a good restaurant at a great location,” Geise said of Friendly’s. “The only reason it left was because it was part of a franchise that made the decision to close a bunch of locations. I think it’s great that (the developer) is coming in. He’s already done some great things elsewhere.”

It’s not known when the new restaurant will open. An official announcement on the project is expected early next week.

Geise noted that the developer has indicated a plan to rehire as many Friendly’s employees as possible, including at least one of the managers.

The closure of Friendly’s April 8 was met with surprise and confusion by customers and city officials. A sign taped to the door stated, “We apologize for disappointing you on this visit, but this location is now closed for business. We regret that we do not have another Friendly’s restaurant near you, but we hope that you will visit one of our other locations when traveling.”

The Massachusetts-based chain opened its Jamestown location in 1985 in a spot that once housed the Sambo’s, No Place Like Sam’s and Season’s restaurants. At the time, the city Development Department sent out solicitation letters to roughly 100 chain restaurants including Red Lobster, Friday’s and Friendly’s.

The property underwent a renovation in 1993 and another facelift in 2015. The 2015 remodel came shortly after a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding that saw Friendly’s close 63 of its 500 restaurants. According to news reports, the chain has further consolidated to about 200 stores in 2018. After the most recent closings, Friendly’s has 77 corporate-owned restaurants and 97 franchisee-owned restaurants, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

In all, 23 Friendly’s restaurants closed this year, including stores in Amherst, Binghamton, Blasdell, Endicott, Greece, Oneonta, Oswego, two in Rochester and one in Syracuse. Restaurants also closed in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

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