Posted on June 19, 2018
Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett
New England Patriots cheerleaders and team mascot Pat Patriot were on hand Monday, June 18, to welcome customers to the newly converted Express Service Friendly’s on 240 Buckland Street in Manchester, Connecticut.
“It’s going well, ” noted store manager, Hector.
For those of us who grew up with wholesome Friendly’s ice cream and sandwich shops throughout New England, where we went to enjoy burger melts on grilled bread, crispy French Fries and a Fribble – meeting up with classmates there on Friday nights, standing in line with family for a booth, or counter seats, where waiters and waitresses then took our orders – is a part of our cultural history. Remember waiters clad in sharply pressed white uniforms, and waitresses wearing gray dresses with delicate white collars and white aprons with ruffles? Friendly’s restaurants – the quaint looking shops themselves and signature menu fare – became a piece of the Americana patchwork, a New England icon.
The uniforms have evolved over the years and so too the design of the restaurant interiors but for decades, one constant has been customers being greeted and seated by staff who took the orders. Once abundant, shops have been closed in some communities. It seems to remain competitive in an ever expanding industry, Friendly’s is changing what became their traditional customer-wait staff experience at some restaurants, such as the one in Manchester – a suburb of Hartford, the capital city. The selection of the Manchester store to be converted into an Express Service shop means that customers can get the same menu items but now place orders themselves at the entry counter area, and seat themselves. (In addition, Friendly’s delivery service called doordash.com is now available in town.)
Some long-time staffers have been kept on here. Three of those women, I was told, served tables a combined 46 years at this particular location. On Monday, one of those women was saying “hello” to customers at the door and explaining the new set-up. Expect to also see new hires on the scene.
Our New England Patriots Hall-of-Fame bound quarterback, Tom Brady, known for his ‘indulgence’ – so to speak – in avocado ice cream, was not present. However, team mascot Pat Patriot, whom is said to know “Tom Terrific”, and two Patriots cheerleaders turned out to promote the change to Express Service. Asked for Patriots Nation predictions for the coming NFL season, one cheerleader said,”Greatness.”
On Monday, some area schools had early dismissal due to record heat and humidity, 90 plus degrees. To cope with the heat, what could taste better than ice cream?
My Friendly’s preferences are New England Clam Chowder and Vienna Mocha Chunk ice cream. How about you – do you have Friendly’s favorites? If so, “express” yourself.