WILBRAHAM, MASS. — Amici Partners Group has agreed to acquire virtually all the assets of FIC Restaurants Inc., which operates under the brand name Friendly’s Restaurants. The sandwich, burger and ice cream chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief on Nov. 1 to facilitate the sale.
The deal is expected to preserve “nearly all” of the remaining corporate-owned and franchised restaurant locations and preserve thousands of jobs, Friendly’s said. The restaurant chain currently is affiliated with BRIX Holdings, a multi-brand franchising company that includes the Red Mango, Smoothie Factory, RedBrick Pizza Kitchen and Souper Salad chains.
Friendly’s has worked to update itself since emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2012, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has added new challenges, said George Michel, chief executive officer of FIC Restaurants.
“Friendly’s has made important strides toward reinvigorating our beloved brand in the face of shifting demographics, increased competition and rising costs,” Mr. Michel said. “Unfortunately, like many restaurant businesses, our progress was suddenly interrupted by the catastrophic impact of COVID-19, which caused a decline in revenue as dine-in operations ceased for months and re-opened with limited capacity.”
The company asked the court for a mid-December hearing to approve the bankruptcy and sale plan.
“We believe the voluntary bankruptcy filing and planned sale to a new, deeply experienced restaurant group will enable Friendly’s to rebound from the pandemic as a stronger business, with the leadership and resources needed to continue to invest in the business and serve loyal patrons, as well as compete to win new customers over the long-term,” Mr. Michel said. “Importantly, it is also expected to preserve the jobs of Friendly’s restaurant team members.”
Friendly’s said it has sufficient cash on-hand to continue operations during the transition.
The company joins a growing list of restaurant chains hit hard by the pandemic. Other major chains that have filed for bankruptcy in recent months include Ruby Tuesday, Sizzler, California Pizza Kitchen and Chuck. E Cheese.