In a recent television commercial, upbeat chief executive John Maguire tells viewers that Friendly’s Ice Cream is “back” and urges customers to give the restaurants another shot. He even promises to tear up the bill if they leave disappointed.
The 30-second pitch is among the latest attempts to turn the Wilbraham-based chain around after emerging from bankruptcy in early 2012.
It was once a staple for New England families, but many long-time customers abandoned Friendly’s and its signature SuperMelt sandwiches and Fribble milkshakes as complaints about dirty interiors and poor service mounted. Annual sales dropped nearly 30 percent to $407 million from 2011 through 2013, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. Friendly’s was the lowest-rated family restaurant in a Consumer Reports survey of 48,000 diners released two years ago.
“The truth about Friendly’s is that we just weren’t that friendly, our food was mediocre, and our restaurants were dirty or just not that well kept,” Maguire said in a recent interview.