Friendly’s CEO goes from panini to patty melts

In just the past few years the Friendly’s food chain has run through several chief executives, gone in and out of bankruptcy, closed more than 100 stores, and still struggled with its dated concept of family dining.

So when the Wilbraham chain sought out a new leader, it looked to the company that has become a leader in the fast-casual food business – Panera Bread Co.

But its new chief executive, Panera chief operating officer John Maguire, has a surprise in store: He does not intend to turn Friendly’s Ice Cream LLC into a copycat bakery-cafe, but hopes to revive the recipe that made the ice cream parlors such a successful chain once upon a time.

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