WILBRAHAM — Friendly’s and its private equity firm owners are using federal bankruptcy courts to sell the struggling restaurant chain to a Texas investment company for just $1.9 million.
It’s a deal both sides say should allow the iconic brand best known for ice cream cones, Fribble milkshakes and Big Beef burgers to continue and for “thousands” of employees of the Springfield-founded chain to remain employed.
But the deal doesn’t involve the Friendly’s business that sells ice cream products to supermarkets or the ice cream plant on Route 20 in Wilbraham. Those businesses are now owned by the co-operative Dairy Farmers of America.
Friendly’s and its soon-to-be former owners, Sun Capital, foreshadowed the move with a series of real estate deals last month, including selling off closed locations in the Forest Park section of Springfield and in Lee, Massachusetts, and Bennington, Vermont.
The new owner, according to court documents, is