|Maura C. Tobias
413-543-2400, ext. 2814
WILBRAHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 13, 2005--The year was1935. America was in the grip of the Great Depression. More than onein five workers were jobless, and record heat and drought had turnedAmerica's heartland into a Dust Bowl. It was hardly an auspicious timeto start a business.
But on July 18, 1935, in Springfield, Mass., two young brothers,20 year old Prestley and 18 year old Curtis Blake, did just that,opening a modest neighborhood ice cream shop selling double-dip conesfor 5 cents--just 2 cents more than a first-class stamp. Reflectingtheir intention of providing neighborly service, the fledglingentrepreneurs called their business "Friendly."
Fast forward 70 years. Friendly Ice Cream Corporation is a marketleader, with 530 restaurants in 16 states, annual sales of $574million and a place on the American stock exchange.
On the eve of its 70th birthday, the company says that growthremains rooted in the founders' original aims of quality and service.
"Our vision is to inspire guest loyalty through great signaturefoods, famous ice cream shoppe desserts, sparkling facilities, prompt,friendly service and dedicated, talented people," said President andCEO, John L. Cutter. "Friendly's is a place where kids and families,teens and seniors, can all come, feel welcome, enjoy themselves - andcreate good memories. That was true in 1935 and it's true today."
In an era of "fast food," Friendly's still offers a made-to-ordermenu, from full breakfasts to signature Burgers, SuperMelt(TM)Sandwiches, homestyle entrees, and indulgent ice cream.
"We still make all our own ice cream using milk from area dairiesand imported Dutch cocoa for our famous hot fudge sauce," notedCutter. "And every one of our ice cream cakes are still finished byhand."
This is not to say that Friendly's hasn't changed in ways thatwould doubtless astonish the Blake brothers. An Internet-based guestfeedback system allows restaurants to make ongoing improvements to thedining experience while re-imaging of restaurants with a new "icecream parlor" look increases guest appeal.
New products range from Team Xtreme ice cream with flavors likeHalf Pipe Kookie Dough Swirl to decorated ice cream cakes sold in morethan 400 supermarkets.
In order to spur new restaurant development, the company isfranchising and re-franchising restaurants at a robust rate. "We're ontarget to open 15 new franchise restaurants in fiscal year 2005, whilerefranchising company restaurants to spur growth and development,"said Cutter. "Each re-franchise agreement has significant newdevelopment attached to it."
More restaurants mean good things for local communities, to whichFriendly's gives back in multiple ways.
"We're a long-time partner with Easter Seals, for which we haveraised more than $22 million through our Cones for Kids program," saidCutter, "and we proudly support a variety of other localorganizations, such as schools, scouting, and sports.
"And that's something we look forward to doing for another 70years," he added.
Friendly Ice Cream Corporation (Amex: FRN) is a verticallyintegrated restaurant company serving signature sandwiches, entreesand ice cream desserts in a friendly, family environment in more than530 company and franchised restaurants throughout the Northeast andmid-Atlantic regions. The company also manufactures ice cream, whichis distributed through more than 4,500 supermarkets and other retaillocations. With a 70-year operating history, Friendly's enjoys strongbrand recognition and is currently revitalizing its restaurants andintroducing new products to grow its customer base. Additionalinformation on Friendly Ice Cream Corporation can be found on theCompany's website, friendlys.com.
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