Friendly's restaurant chain sells ice cream manufacturing, retail business

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WILBRAHAM >> The Friendly's restaurant chain has sold its ice cream manufacturing and retail business to Dean Foods Co. for $155 million.

Dallas-based Dean announced Monday that it will continue to manufacture ice cream and novelty ice cream products in Wilbraham.

The more than 260 Friendly's restaurants will continue to be owned by an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners Inc., with no management changes.

In the Berkshire's, Friendly's operates restaurants in Lee and Pittsfield. Both restaurants received over $100,000 upgrades from Friendly's in 2014.

Friendly's expanded to the Berkshires in the early 1950s, and operated as many nine outlets in the county by the 1970s, including four in Pittsfield alone.

The chain closed its restaurants in Great Barrington, North Adams and Lenox between 2012 and 2015. The North Adams restaurant had been open for 50 years, and the Lenox eatery for 40.

Friendly's ice cream is distributed to more than 8,000 supermarkets and retailers across the United States, and has seen 105 percent growth in retail business in the past five years.

The transaction is expected to close late in the second quarter, subject to regulatory approvals.

Friendly's was founded in 1935 in Springfield. Dean Foods is the nation's largest direct-to-store distributor of milk and other dairy products.

Friendly's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in both 2011 and 2012 and closed 100 restaurants in the process. The Great Barrington restaurant closed after Friendly's filed for bankruptcy in 2012.


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