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Agadi resigns as chairman, CEO of Friendly's Corp.

Date: 2/14/2012

Feb. 13, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — The unstable ground on which the Friendly Ice Cream Corp. is standing shifted again on Feb. 10 with the resignation of Chariman and CEO Harsha Agadi.

"Harsha V. Agadi has resigned his position as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Friendly's, effective Feb. 10," Maura Tobias, director of consumer engagement, said in a statement to Reminder Publications. "Agadi will continue to serve on the Board of Directors. While the search for a permanent replacement is found, Jim Parrish, the current COO, will become the interim Chief Executive Officer."

Agadi was named CEO of the struggling Wilbraham-based ice cream manufacturer and restaurant chain on Aug. 17, 2010, taking over for Ned Lidvall who resigned shortly after the company's 75th anniversary celebration on July 19, 2010.

Agadi came in with a resume that included 20 years experience in the restaurant industry and a "passion and focus on classic American brands." He said he believed Friendly's could expand and become a nationally recognized entity, even after nearly 200 stores were closed after a failed expansion attempt shortly before his arrival.

"In addition to Friendly's being a classic, iconic brand, I think we can grow this company from coast to coast eventually," he said in a previous interview with Reminder Publications. "It's classic American dining, not weird food, so I don't think we'll have trouble expanding to other parts of the country."

However, Friendly's continued to struggle in the weak economy and eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Oct. 5, 2011. Sixty-three stores were deemed underperforming due to decline of quality, lack of financial profitability or close proximity to other stores and shuttered as part of the restructuring, while another 37 stores were shut down when the company emerged from bankruptcy in January.

Locations in Chicopee, Holyoke, Longmeadow, Springfield and West Springfield were among those that closed its doors.

Agadi stressed that the company made the move in order to restructure the company and it was not a sign of its demise.

"We are not disappearing. We are committed to this community," he said in October, 2011. "I am a new chair and CEO and I came here with my eyes wide open knowing that the company needs to turn around in several areas. But I wouldn't have come here and relocated my family if I didn't believe in this company. We are very committed to being here."

Agadi had attempted to boost interest in Friendly's by introducing their new "High 5" menu and also pursuing lower calorie sandwiches.

Agadi was not available for comment and did not make a written statement.

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