Around New England

Friendly’s Co-Founder Dies At 102

May 27, 2019

One of the two brothers who founded Friendly’s Ice Cream in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1935 has died. Curtis Blake was 102.

But his older brother and business partner, S. Prestley Blake, is still alive at 104.

The two brothers, 11th generation direct descendants of the one of the co-founders of Springfield, borrowed $547 from their parents to open an ice cream shop in Springfield in the summer of 1935, selling ice cream cones to Great Depression customers for less than what a nearby drugstore was charging, according to MassLive.com.

“Our customers didn’t have any money and neither did we,” Curtis Blake said in a 2017 interview, according to MassLive.com.

The brothers together bought a Model A Ford for $40 and shared it – which was feasible because one would make the ice cream at night and the other would run the restaurant during the day.

The single ice cream shop eventually grew to about 850 restaurants. The brothers sold Friendly’s to Hershey Foods in 1979 for $164 million.

The two had a falling-out over business matters after retirement, but eventually they reconciled, according to MassLive.com.

In retirement, Curtis Blake remained a loyal Friendly’s customer, usually ordering buffalo chicken strips, according to MassLive.com.

Curtis Blake died Friday, May 24 in Hobe Sound, Florida, according to the company.

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