Friendly’s closes restaurant off Kirkwood Highway.

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friendlyFriendly’s has closed a restaurant that had operated for decades off Kirkwood Highway, east of Newark.

A representative of the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A sign on the door noted that other Friendly’s restaurants remain open nearby in Hockessin and Newark.

Friendy’s, for many years, were a part of growing up, with trips with the family followed by first dates. Many young people also got their first jobs at the alcohol-free restaurants.

The Kirkwood Highway saw greater competition in recent years with the opening of an IHop restaurant a short distance away,

Friendly’s operates about 250 restaurants on the East Coast and a couple of months ago sold its fast-growing ice cream supermarket business to Dean Foods.

Friendly’s has been undergoing a turnaround under CEO John Maguire after emerging from bankruptcy proceedings.

Under Maguire, the company has added menu items and added a new store design to replace the outdated decor.

Friendly’s and the franchisee were   quick to rebuild a restaurant in Middletown that burned down a few years ago.

“The restaurants have experienced tremendous growth in sales and guest traffic over the last 15 months; a direct result of the introduction of new and exciting menu items, extensive renovations to existing locations, compelling value propositions and the addition of drive-thru windows,” Maguire stated earlier in the year.

However, one franchise group ended up in bankruptcy court last year and closed some restaurants.

It was announced this week that Maguire will  have more on his plate with his appointment as CEO of California-based Johnny Rockets. Friendly’s and Johnny Rockets are owned by the same private equity firm.

Johnny Rockets has 300   restaurants in 28  countries that come with an American malt shop décor and menu. The chains will operate separately, with Maguire working to determine synergies between the two chains.

Johnny Rockets operated for a short time at Christiana Mall.

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