Friendly’s Founders Avoid Demoulas-Like Pitfalls Despite Similarities

Friendly's co-founder, 99-year-old Prestley Blake, at his estate in Somers, Conn.
Friendly's co-founder, 99-year-old Prestley Blake, at his estate in Somers, Conn. –The Boston Globe

After all the drama surrounding Market Basket the last several weeks, it seems unfair to compare the feuding Demoulas cousins to anyone else. But when Prestley Blake, one of the two Blake brothers who founded Friendly’s, sat down with The Boston Globe’s Shirley Leung to discuss his seven-year battle to regain a controlling stake in his company and turn its image around, the similarities were rather surprising.

In talking to both Prestley Blake, 99, and Curtis Blake, 97, about their views on the business, Leung found that each brother fit almost perfectly into a Demoulas mold. And, had it not been for the brothers’ shared love of ice cream, Friendly’s could have had a Market-Basket-esque showdown of its own when Prestley started going after then-CEO Donald Smith.

Curtis Blake also likes the new Friendly’s, calling Maguire one of the best chief executives the chain has had. But little brother wasn’t nearly as upset as Pres about the old management team. In fact, Curtis had begged his brother to end all the fighting with a company they long ago sold.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Curtis and Pres are as different as vanilla and chocolate, not unlike the Market Basket Demoulases, Arthur T. and Arthur S. Curtis possessed the common touch, while Pres mercilessly watched the bottom line.

“My mom used to say if Pres owned the business alone, he wouldn’t have any employees,’’ Curtis recalled. “If I owned the business alone, I would give it all away to the employees.’’


You can read more about the Blake brothers, the Demoulas comparison, and the Friendly’s restaurants in The Boston Globe full story here.

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