Friday, October 10, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — What was for many people a nostalgic downtown fixture has closed its doors.
The Friendly’s restaurant at 63 King St. closed Monday, according to a statement by the chain’s corporate headquarters in Wilbraham.
GLG Corporation owned by Gary L. Glenn of Granby operated the restaurant which has been on King Street for decades. A sign on its door now directs customers to his other Friendly’s restaurants at 54 Main St. in Florence and 455 Russell St. in Hadley. Managers at those two restaurants Tuesday referred questions to Glenn who could not be reached for comment.
“I thank you for your patronage over the years,” the sign reads.
Neither Mayor David Narkewicz nor City Council President William Dwight know why the restaurant closed.
“I don’t think it’s indicative of any kind of trend” hinting at a decline of downtown businesses, Dwight said. “At the same time, I understand people’s disappointment from having it close.”
He noted that it is easy to assume that institutions such as Friendly’s will always be there, so when “one day their windows just go dark ... it’s upsetting.”
Dwight said he can remember going to the Friendly’s in Holyoke when he was growing up. Some of his favorite dishes were peppermint stick ice cream and the clam strips, he added.
Narkewicz said he plans to have City Economic Development Director Terry Masterson reach out to Glenn for more information on what led to the closing.
Terry Ragasa, who co-owns Sutter Meats next door to Friendly’s with his wife Susan, said they had just come back from vacation and found the restaurant closed. Sutter Meats opened at 65 King St. in January.
“They were good neighbors,” Ragasa said in the butcher shop Tuesday evening. “We’re really kind of shocked to see it go so quickly.”
He added that he hopes the storefront will not remain empty for too long.
Jack Finn, who co-owns A2Z Science & Learning Store at 57 King St. with his wife Priscilla, said he, too, had heard no reason for Friendly’s closing, and is sorry to see it go. “It’s been a regular fixture here,” he said. “It’s going to be sad to see it gone.”
He added that the restaurant was hospitable to people on the streets who needed food or shelter.
“They were a special destination for people who were kind of down and out,” he said.
A2Z Science & Learning Store originally opened in Thornes Marketplace in the late 1980s, and moved to its King Street location in 1997. Twelve years ago, Finn said, he and his wife added an apartment upstairs where they have since resided.
“We’ve always had Friendly’s next to us,” he said.
The first Friendly’s opened in Springfield in 1935.
Gena Mangiaratti can be reached at email@example.com.