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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The fall of Friendly

It was a shame to see the Friendly restaurant on Washington Avenue in Kingston shut down. In a rough economy, inexpensive restaurants with decent food are invaluable – especially for people with kids – and this 35-year institution will be missed, for sure.

But I can’t say I’m surprised by the closing. Restaurants need three things to survive: good food, good prices and good service. And in this case, two out of three is bad. The food and prices at Friendly were fine, but the service was dreadful. The worst. If the cooks and wait staff worked any slower, they’d have been going in reverse.

And I’m not talking about my family having one or two bad experiences there. I’m talking about having to wait inordinate amounts of time to have our orders taken and our food brought virtually every time we went there. Even just a simple ice cream order typically took 10 or 15 minutes to deliver. That’s just inexcusable.

And we weren’t alone in our displeasure. I constantly heard from friends and co-workers that they couldn’t get in and out of the place in a decent amount of time.

Restaurants, especially casual ones that don’t charge a lot for meals, make their money by “turning tables over” as many times as possible. The more customers you get in and out in a given period of time, the more money you make. And this is where Friendly failed. The restaurant’s poor service caused parties to occupy tables for up to an hour when the turnover time should have been half that. That means the restaurant served only half as many people as it should have and, as a result, brought in only half the amount of money it should have.

And that spells trouble – in any economy.

My guess is that some other restaurant will fill the vacant Friendly space fairly soon. The location – on the main road into town from the Thruway, across the street from a bus station, near several medical offices and next door to a high school football stadium – is just too good to pass up. It seems impossible not to make money in that spot.

Well, almost impossible.



Blogger Lou said...

I will miss the restaurant also. My wife and I were regulars for breakfast. And since we both worked nights it was a nice stop in the way home. But times change and for the last year we could not stop in like we used to.

But I will say that on those mornings we did stop over the years. The service was great and friendly. Always got to chat with the other regulars in the morning.

Debbie who was the waitress and Julie the manager on duty in the morning, are two people that we will always remember.

November 25, 2008 at 5:38 AM 

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