Just before 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29, only two booths at Friendly's were occupied.
A young blond girl walked around the front of the restaurant, her mother in pursuit. From the table, her father tried to coax her to eat something off her plate. The girl's younger sibling sat in a high chair drinking milk from a sippy cup.
The older men in the booth on the opposite side of the restaurant seemed unfazed by the girl who would not sit still long enough to take a bite of her food.
But families and groups of friends can no longer eat at the Friendly's in Darien.
The family chain that has been in Darien since 1974 closed its doors on Sept. 2.
"J&B Restaurant Partners of CT, LLC a Friendly's franchisee, announced the closing of its Friendly's location in Darien in anticipation of the expiration of its lease," according to a Friendly's spokesman. "The restaurant located at 275 Boston Post Road will cease operations, effective immediately."
Employees at the restaurant sat in booths in the back corner of the 40-year-old establishment on Friday. They knew little of the reasons behind the store's closure.
On Sept. 2, there was nothing left on the building to suggest that it had ever been a Friendly's restaurant. The signs had all been removed from the building and property.
As of Sept. 2, the property had not been sold, according to records in the town clerk's office. However, Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Ginsberg recalls seeing a "For Sale" sign in front of the property months ago. Businesses do not need to report their reasons for closing to the Planning and Zoning Department, Ginsberg said.
The family-friendly chain known for its ice cream desserts is not a stranger to store closures. In 2011, after the company declared bankruptcy, seven Connecticut stores were closed. The Fairfield County locations survived.
In May 2011, Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based J&B Restaurant Partners bought 32 Friendly's locations, including the Darien location, with the plan of building 19 more outlets in seven years.
A call to J&B, which owns 65 Friendly's outlets, was not returned.
email@example.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews