Saturday, January 9, 2010

Efforts at the Northborough Friendly's (Westborough Friendly's)

So I have to start out by correcting a misprint in my November blog about the "Northborough Friendly's".  The restaurant I am talking about it located at 303 Turnpike Road (in front of the Walmart).  I thought the town line ran right in front of the Friendly's, actually it runs between the Walmart and the Friendly's so in reality this Friendly's is also in Westborough.  I don't think anyone was confused on what I was talking about but I did want to correct.  According to the Friendly's website, this location is labeled in Westborough and the Friendly's at the intersection of rt30 and rt9 is the Westboro Friendly's.  That is a whole different discussion so I'll leave that alone for the moment.

Back to my reason for today's blog.  As I said, on November 13th I wrote a blog describing some less then optimal experiences at the Westborough Friendly's.  That post had a ton of hits including, Vinny Miele, district manager for the Friendly's in this area.  Vinny publicly invited me to discuss some of my experiences and I took him up on his offer. We had a good discussion about the service he looks to provide to the area.  And I was very frank on where I felt things were lacking.  I am proud to see the management at Friendly's taking the time to listen to public opinion and looking for improvements within their establishments. Thanks to the internet we have a voice.

Vinny made some staffing chances at the end of last year and invited me to retry the Friendly's in mid December.  I had dinner at the Westborough Friendly's on December 18th and met the new general manager, Andrew.  As you would expect my service that night was stellar.  I have managed a couple of restaurants in the past and if you know there is someone important in the establishment you make sure all the extras are in place.  Vinny was at the restaurant helping that night as well and several of the managers and staff checked repeatedly to make sure I had everything I needed. 

I tried to keep an eye out on the other tables that night.  My wife and I ran into a friend that night who also reads this blog.  Unfortunately her experience was not the same as mine...missing silverware, and very slow to take the order.  But the mixed bag of service that night was still and improvement over the experiences I mentioned in the previous blog.

So being the thorough person I am, I decided to revisit the Westborough Friendly's 3 more times before I write this blog and make a final decision.  I wanted to be just another customer and evaluate the service without being recognized.  

December 23 - Dinner - I made it through the whole meal with my kids before I was recognized...Andrew did see me as I was leaving and stopped to say hi.  Just me and my boys.  Service was reasonable, not super fast but not obviously slow.  There were no crayons that day, I guess they ran out, but nothing else of major interest positive or negative.

December 31 - Lunch - Here I was just another customer but I got the same waitress I had on the 23rd.  Kudos tothe waitress for recognizing a regular.  She said hello, mentioned the last visit and the kitchen seemed to be running quicker.  The restaurant was pretty empty so service was quick and there was no wait, but I noticed more servers available then I had remembered in my last trip.

January 9 - Lunch - We were greeted right away at a packed restaurant.  There were only two tables available when we walked in, and we were seated immediately.  This was the test I was hoping for.  Can they deliver fast accurate service when it is busy?  I am happy to report today's experience continues the trend of better and better service.  Lunch today was almost back to the service level I remember from years ago and expect at Friendly's. It took 4 minutes for a server to visit our table.  Definitely reasonable in a packed restaurant.  After ordering, our meals took 17 minutes to be delivered.  A little longer then I remember from past years but still acceptable on all accounts.  Our server was friendly and the couple of extra requests we had were accommodated promptly. 

I give a lot of credit to Vinny and Andrew as they seem to be turning this location around.  I can't say it is perfect yet, but when the kids ask for Friendly's I no longer eliminate this location as a possibility.  In the last four visits I have seen marked improvements each time.  I hope to see this positive trend continue at the Westborough Friendly's.  Continuous improvement requires feedback.  I know Vinny checks this blog so please feel free to post comments with your experiences.  I will continue to keep an eye on this as well.


  1. My family frequents here as well. We, like you, have had the mixed bag.

    Our most recent visit was around the time Andrew began; I remember as the waitress commented the new manager was a stickler that burgers are cooked well-done when we ordered a medium-rare burger.

    The night started well, good attention, waitress was friendly and chatty with my kids, but then it went downhill after we ordered. The food took a long time and after it was delivered, the waitress came for the initial "how is everything" and that was it. We had to flag her down to say we were done and get the free ice cream for dessert. She forgot my 3 1/2 year old's order, but had the rest of ours. He had to wait over 5-10 minutes for her to go back and make it. Come check time, we waited and waited for her to pick it up. My husband finally went to the register to pay.

    Needless to say, we were not happy. This was one of the worst times we have experienced here, but as I mentioned earlier, it has been a mixed bag. We will go again as it is our older son's favorite restaurant. Based on the "Boroughs Review" I look forward to a better experience next time.

  2. I have yet to have a positive experience at a Friendly's from Framingham to Worcester. The last time I took my kids the service was so horrible that I told them I will not waste my money there anymore. Definitely complain to them and they will send you coupons but I still won't eat there even if the meal is free.