SYOSSET, NY — A Friendly’s restaurant in Syosset permanently closed over the weekend amid struggles brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesperson for the national chain of family restaurants confirmed to Patch on Monday the restaurant closed Sunday.
“With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to have a lasting impact across the restaurant industry, a difficult decision was made to close the franchise-owned Friendly’s location in Syosset, NY,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Public records showed the restaurant was built in 1981. Friendly’s restaurants in Commack, Mineola and East Meadow are still open, the company said.
“We remain focused on continuing to serve our Friendly’s patrons at more than 130 restaurants where we continue an increased focus on delivery and online ordering and a re-energized overall experience for our customers,” the spokesperson said. “Those forward-looking efforts – along with strict adherence to local health and safety guidelines – have put us in the best possible position to weather this massive challenge and sustain most locations at this time.”
Beginning with a single location in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1935, Friendly’s is known for its burgers, soups, salads, sandwiches, pancakes, omelets, home fries, and ice cream, including classic cones, sundaes and floats.
But the chain faced mounting financial struggles in recent years, long before the pandemic.
In 2016, Friendly’s sold its retail ice cream and manufacturing business to Dean Foods Co. for $155 million. Dean Foods later declared bankruptcy in November 2019.
In April 2019, Friendly’s closed nearly two-dozen locations across the Northeast after reassessing its strategy about company-owned locations. That included 14 in upstate New York. At the time, CEO George Michel said the shuttered restaurants were in places that had seen dramatic changes since they’d first opened, Michel said.
A Friendly’s restaurant in Levittown later closed in December and workers were transferred to nearby locations, including in East Meadow. While a report had said the store was closed due to financial reasons, workers disputed the claim Friday, saying they were told it had nothing to do with underperformance. Rather, the owner didn’t want to renew the lease, they said.
Friendly’s and its franchisees have closed roughly 25 percent of its locations since 2017, according to Restaurant Business.
Members of the Syosset community expressed grief over the latest closure.
“I’m so sad because I have so many memories from my childhood to teenage to even my kids’ childhood,’ one person wrote in a Facebook post.
Another responded: “So sad.”
This article originally appeared on the Syosset Patch