Tags Posts tagged with "Friendly’s"


Friendly's in Miller Place

Friendly’s Restaurants LLC, has filed for bankruptcy again and has an agreement to be sold to Amici Partners Group for just under $2 million. The parent company of the family-friendly restaurant chain, known for its Jim Dandy ice cream sundaes and Fribble milkshakes, made the announcement on Nov. 2. Almost all the 130 active Friendly’s locations will remain open and thousands of jobs will be preserved by the sale which is set to be complete in December.

As part of the deal, Friendly’s lenders have agreed to waive nearly $88 million in secured debt, according to court documents.

Friendly’s had been struggling since before the pandemic, closing hundreds of restaurants over the last decade and filing for bankruptcy in 2011. The chain had rebounded over the past two years, but COVID-19 restrictions became too much to overcome, the company said.

“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,” George Michel, CEO of Friendly’s owner FIC Restaurants, said in a statement. “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 reopened with limited capacity.”

MELTology owners Nick Mauceri and Kevin Muller. Photo by Kevin Redding

With the newly opened MELTology in Mount Sinai, two young business partners and former Friendly’s employees bring their fresh, experimental take on a classic comfort food to the North Shore.

The cafe-style sandwich spot, serving variations of grilled cheese, among other standard items like burgers and chicken sandwiches, marks co-owner Kevin Muller’s fourth — and most ambitious — venture in the restaurant business.

Menu options at MELTology include various grilled cheese mash-ups. Photo from MELTology

After his first restaurant in Selden, Simple Smoothie Cafe, buckled under the pressures of surrounding competition in 2012 — with nearby Tropical Smoothies and Red Mangos making his “no-name brand” obsolete — the 30-year-old Patchogue resident drove up and down North Country Road to get a grasp of what foods were most popular among locals, while brainstorming what new flavors he could bring to the area.

“I was losing big time, and I had to figure something else out,” Muller recalled, saying he had to go back to his old job at Friendly’s just to pay rent month after month while his first business went under. “I was just thinking ‘what can I do differently?’”

Just a few months later, after crafting his own spin on his grandmother’s Italian crepes recipe, Muller found great success with Crazy Crepe Cafe, bringing all variations of the traditional treat to four different locations: Selden, Mount Sinai, Smithtown and Lake Ronkonkoma. In the midst of that, he also opened up an East End food truck business in 2016.

Alongside Crazy Crepe manager and former Friendly’s co-worker Nick Mauceri, 25, Muller recently decided to convert his Crazy Crepe in Mount Sinai into MELTology, to try and reach a different market and more of the general public.

“We paired up the grilled cheeses with the dessert crepes and it works really well together, and [in a few weeks] we’re going to bring our burgers from our food truck and combine that to make grilled cheese burgers … we love seeing the place packed and everyone enjoying the food,” Muller said.

MELTology is located at 5507 Suite 16 Nesconset Highway in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

Mauceri, who said the MELTology idea started back when they worked at Friendly’s and were experimenting with the food chain’s super melt sandwiches, can’t believe how quickly the community has taken to the new restaurant — even despite its Friday the 13th opening in January.

“Luckily, everything went off without a hitch [opening day],” he said. “It’s something that’s catching on really quickly, but we couldn’t have known that it was going to be this fast. We get a great sense of pride from it, especially when you get to talk to people who say they’re really enjoying what they just ate.”

According to the owners, such menu picks like the “Chicken Parm Melt” sandwich, made up of melted mozzarella, chicken strips and marinara sauce on parmesan-crusted sourdough bread, and the “Sweetness Melt,” which features applewood smoked bacon and maple syrup, sets MELTology apart from similar sandwich spots in the area.

Kevin put himself through college at SUNY Polytechnic Institute while working, climbing the ladder from employee to general manager, and saving money to start his own business, he said, and has utilized his business degree well. With Crazy Crepes, Muller did all his own training, made his own menus and even did all the marketing.

John Muller, Kevin’s father, called his son a “workaholic.”

MELTology will still have Crazy Crepe desert options on the menu. Photo from MELTology

“I’m very proud of him, obviously, and for someone who started with only a couple thousand dollars and is now running and owning four restaurants, he’s doing really well,” John Muller said. “He’s entrepreneurial — owning a business is something he’s always wanted to do.”

MELTology, located at 5507 Nesconset Highway Suite 16, is open 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Menu items range frlom a classic grilled-cheese sandwich ($4.95); chicken parm melt ($6.95); and “Kitchen Cinque” sandwich, a multilayered melt of Parmesan-crusted sourdough, melted Cheddar, Gruyère, American, pepper jack and apple-wood smoked bacon with a slice of tomato ($6.95). Sides like mac & cheese ($2.50) and soup ($3.99/cup, $5.99/bread bowl) are coming soon. Crazy Crepe sweet crepes that have made the menu include the Dirty Banana, Oreo Crepe, S’mores Crepe, Peanute Butter Cup Crepe and Apple Pie Crepe. Prices Range from $6.95 to $7.95. Milkshakes in vanilla, chocolate, nutella, oreo and peanut butter cup are also available ($4.50).

Takeout can also be ordered online.

For more information, call (631) 509 0331 or visit www.meltology.

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Three Village civic members are in discussions with developers and elected officials regarding a potential Chick-fil-A restaurant opening at the Friendly’s location in Stony Brook. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The new year brought new ideas to the Three Village area, starting with the new name of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook. But there were more pressing issues facing the civic at its first meeting this year.

The civic officially changed its name to the Three Village Civic Association on Jan. 1 with support from its membership. Shawn Nuzzo, president of the civic association, said the name was a mouthful, but a different kind of mouthful had its eyes set on Stony Brook as well.

Toward the end of last year, the civic met with developers representing the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, which has proposed building a new location on Hallock Road in Stony Brook where the Friendly’s currently stands. Nuzzo said the company is seeking a zoning change for the area to add a drive-thru to the prospective restaurant.

According to Nuzzo, the 1.3-acre property is too small to accommodate a drive-thru and extra parking — a two-acre property is required for such development.

Despite Chick-fil-A’s popularity, the civic found that residents want less drive-thru style fast-food establishments after conducting a poll regarding commercial development in the area, Nuzzo said.

“You really have to show that there’s a need. … Everybody likes Chick-fil-A. … How necessary is one more Chick-fil-A on the wrong side of the street,” said Robert de Zafra, former president of the civic and Three Village Community Trust secretary.

De Zafra, added that there are more appropriate properties past the Smithtown line for Chick-fil-A’s vision, in his opinion.

Representatives from Chick-fil-A did not respond to requests seeking comment.

The proposal is one of three that sparked concerns among civic members. On Jan. 11, developers Enrico and Danny Scarda from The Crest Group proposed building condominiums near Setauket Meadows. The Scardas said they want to establish a condominium community for residents 55-years-old and older to cater to aging Long Islanders. The woodland area must be rezoned to accommodate the prospective 100-unit plan, however.

The property’s current sewage treatment plant is also an issue, civic members said. The two developers proposed using the property’s current wastewater treatment plant that was established 10 years ago, according to Nuzzo.

“If that treatment plant can’t accommodate expansion or if it’s not performing up to [the] Suffolk County Health code. … There’s no way,” Nuzzo said.

While the town is in charge of zoning changes, Suffolk County is responsible for enforcing a property’s health code. In a letter to the developers, the civic pointed out that there are no shops in walking distance of the property.

Their concerns also included the number of units proposed and plans for affordable housing units on the property. The town requires developers to devote 10 percent of residential units to affordable housing.

Although age-restricted establishments are necessary for Long Island’s increasing elderly community, the civic is one of many organizations that pushed for the revitalization of Route 25A near the Stony Brook train station.

Before the Town of Brookhaven passed a resolution to conduct a study of Main Street from the Smithtown line to Nicolls Road, Parviz Farahzad introduced the idea of a small strip mall called Stony Brook Square on the property across from the train station. The proposal was a work-in-progress as the civic voiced concerns about the mall’s appearance, among other issues. Nuzzo said the corridor study would help “give an idea about the big picture,” for revitalizing the area.

While the proposals are in their infancy stages, de Zafra said the civic would have negative input regarding the Chick-fil-A proposal once it reaches the town. Nuzzo added that looking out for the community is part of the civic’s job.

“A good civic association is meant to counteract and balance [if] a developer has an idea,” Nuzzo said. “It depends if it’s really in the best interest of the community as a whole.”