Friendly’s to debut, roll out smaller format
Mansfield, Mass. Friendly Ice Cream Corp. is opening a new, fast-casual, smaller-footprint restaurant on Wednesday that it hopes will be expandable along the Eastern Seaboard.
According to the Boston Globe, the first Friendly’s Express will open in Mansfield, Mass., featuring a limited menu a notch above fast food.
The 2,200-sq.-ft. restaurant is about one-third smaller than a typical Friendly’s and represents, according to the Globe, an effort by the struggling company to enter one of the few growth areas in the restaurant business: delivering fresh, made-to-order food in a convenient setting.
Sales have dropped 7.0% over the past five years as the 504-restaurant Friendly’s chain has shuttered underperforming stores and battled problems with poor management and declining service.
The smaller Friendly’s Express is expected to be a good growth vehicle for franchisees, costing about $600,000 to build, half as much as the average unit. The smaller footprint will fit into a wider variety of real estate options.
Friendly’s, which also runs corporate restaurants, will open one more Express location this year in Boston or Providence, R.I., and another five in 2010, said the Globe, with projections of opening up to 300 East Coast restaurants.
J.C. Penney takes on Manhattan
New York City J.C. Penney Co. on Friday celebrated the grand opening of its first-ever location in Manhattan. The two-level, 150,000-sq.-ft. store is in Manhattan Mall, on Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street. The location is noteworthy: It is just a block from Macy’s famed flagship.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Myron (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and CEO, J.C. Penney, in remarks at the opening. “This is a big step for J.C. Penney.”
“This is definitely not your mother’s J.C. Penney,” Ullman added.
Guests at the opening included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who thanked J.C. Penney for creating 500 new jobs in the city, as well as “the wealth of shopping opportunities for people on a budget.”
The new store reflects J.C. Penney’s evolution during the past several years from a dowdy budget retailer to a contemporary-fashion chain that combines affordability with the latest styles. The chain has added exclusive designer apparel, private labels and updated home furnishings from such well-known designers as Nicole Miller, Ralph Lauren and Chris Madden, and in-store Sephora boutiques. Two new exclusive brands — a home line from Cindy Crawford and a menswear line from Joseph Abboud — are making their debut in the Manhattan location.
The store is designed to get shoppers in and out quickly and efficiently, with 95 registers, an electronic queuing system that directs customers to available registers and informs them of estimated wait times, and interactive directories. LED-illuminated wayfinding signs throughout the space.
Inside the mall, a three-story lighted J.C. Penney sign and a 7-ft.-by-7-ft. video cube are suspended over the escalators leading down to the store (there is no street-level entrance). Also, six large glass showcase windows on the mall’s main floor are devoted to the retailer.
The interior is bright and colorful, with modern decor elements. J.C. Penney uses a system of floating ceiling panels, which reflect light and provide more height on the sales floor (the ceilings are low throughout). More than 1,000 new merchandise display fixtures were created or customized for the store with an eye towards allowing greater merchandise capacity, and to making the space easy to shop and navigate.
J.C. Penney, which already operates stores in the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens, reportedly expects the new Manhattan store to be its largest sales generator.
New leases signed at Shorewood Crossing
Shorewood, Ill. Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency Centers said Thursday it has leased space to two new merchants at Shorewood Crossing in Shorewood, Ill.
The Mailbox Store has leased 1,176 sq. ft., and Benedetto’s Pizza has leased 1,500 sq. ft.
In addition, Troy Dental relocated and expanded to a 3,000-sq.-ft. space.
Shorewood Crossing is anchored by a Dominick’s supermarket, plus Hair Cuttery, H&R Block and U.S. Cellular.