Friendly’s files for Chapter 11 in Delaware, announces buyer

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FIC Restaurants, Inc., owner of Friendly’s Restaurants announced an agreement to sell substantially all of its assets to Amici Partners Group. The company also filed for Chapter 11 protection in Wilmington.

Delaware’s bankruptcy court has handled many Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings from mid-sized chains.

Private equity-financed Amici is comprised of experienced restaurant investors and operators who have been involved with quick service and casual dining chains for more than 25 years, a release stated. Amici is currently affiliated with BRIX Holdings, a multi-brand franchising company.

Friendly’s has struggled with changes in dining habits that include adult family members looking for alcoholic beverage options as well as a wider variety of food offerings. More recently its restaurant locations on the East Coast took a hit from Covid-19. restrictions.

The company and franchisees have pared down their restaurant roster in Delaware and elsewhere over the years. At the same time, locations have been opened in areas with families, such as Middletown.

Also sold off was Friendly’s thriving supermarket ice cream product operation.

Nearly all of Friendly’s 130 corporate-owned and franchised restaurant locations are expected to remain open subject to Covid-19 limitations. The transaction is expected to preserve thousands of corporate-owned restaurant team member and franchisee jobs, a release stated.

The Chapter 11 plan that contemplates payment of all allowed claims. Friendly’s has asked the Bankruptcy Court for a hearing in mid-December to approve the sale and confirm the chapter 11 plan, with the closing and plan taking effect as soon as possible thereafter, a release stated.

“Over the last two years, Friendly’s has made important strides toward reinvigorating our beloved brand in the face of shifting demographics, increased competition, and rising costs,” said George Michel, CEO of FIC Restaurants. “We achieved this by delivering menu innovation, re-energizing marketing, focusing on take-out, catering and third-party delivery, establishing a better overall experience for customers, and working closely with our franchisees and restaurant teams. 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.

Michel continued, “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,” he added. “Importantly, it is also expected to preserve the jobs of Friendly’s restaurant team members, who are the heart and soul of our enterprise and have been critical to the progress we have made in transforming this iconic brand.”

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