Friendly’s, a chain of family-friendly casual dining restaurants along the East Coast, announced today that it has purchased popular Fan District hangout Buddy’s.
Terms of the deal between the neighborly-sounding establishments were not disclosed.
The merger will give Friendly’s access to the heavy bar-going base at Buddy’s, while those who frequent the 34-year-old Fan watering hole will see their favorite neighborhood bar morph into a family restaurant – complete with the chain’s brightly-lit red booths, cheery servers, and array of popular ice cream products.
“Being so similar to ‘Friendly’s,’ the name [Buddy’s] is initially what led us to start our partnership discussions, and once we met it was obvious that this was the best direction for both our organizations,” said Ned Lidvall, CEO of Friendly’s. “Plus, the Fan is already full of independently-owned businesses. Our research showed that people really wanted to have a major chain restaurant within walking distance.”
The acquisition will bring with it several key changes at Buddy’s, including the immediate removal of the buffalo head hanging on the wall (“too scary for children,” the CEO says) and photos of partying patrons that currently adorn the restaurant’s walls (“kids don’t need to be exposed to such revelry,” the CEO adds). Friendly’s will replace all Buddy’s signage, and hang pictures of “small town Americana, and ice cream” throughout the 1,000-square-foot Robinson Street establishment, Lidvall said.
Buddy’s hours will also be cut back to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on the weekend. And perhaps the most visible transformation? An end to all alcohol sales. Buddy’s is expected to close for two weeks in late May for the renovations.
Patrons of the popular Robinson Street bar and restaurant had mixed feelings after hearing the news.
“I think it’s a horrible business decision to stop serving beer and close early, particularly on Robinson Street where there is so much competition for nightlife dollars,” said Sharif Ewees, a self-described “regular” at Buddy’s. “Though I am a big fan of the Jim Dandy™ sundae, so having it within walking distance will be pretty sweet.”
Added the 34-year-old: “Ice cream makes the meal.”
Buddy’s owner Greg Nevi told reporters that he would miss seeing his favorite Friday and Saturday night bar-goers, but looked forward to opening early on Sunday morning to cater to the church crowd.