After more than 40 years, the Friendly’s in West Caldwell served its final meals Sunday.
The family-style restaurant was loved by area residents for its special sundaes, and served as a gathering place for the young and young at heart.
On Sunday, customers came for one last time, as the staff kept its composure despite the reality of the restaurant’s impending closing.
Vern Carter, General Manager for , said he will miss the regular customers and getting to meet new ones.
“Nov. 20 would have been one year for me at this location,” Carter said.
The West Caldwell location of the national restaurant opened in the late 1960s. Over the years the menu has grown and changed and the décor has been updated to include vintage images of Friendly's restaurants. Outside the restaurant is one of the township’s oldest trees, a Cucumber Magnolia that dates back more than 100 years.
Tina Cardella grew up in Roseland and would to go to Friendly's as a kid. Once she became a mother, she started bringing her kids to the restaurant. "I am sorry to see it close and will especially miss the employees, Marlet, Jonathan and Andrea. Their friendliness and great service will be missed most."
Andrea Dominguez, one of the Friendly's employees mentioned by Cardella, has worked at the restaurant for four years. She said the news of the closing “came too fast with not enough time to process!”
For Dominguez, the restaurant was a home away from home and she was on a first-name basis with many of her customers.
“Mrs. Tina, Stevey and the little sweeties. Mrs. Michele and Jules and my favorite elderly couples who were young at heart and always telling jokes like, ‘My favorite thing at Friendly's is a sundae on this fine Sunday.'"
Jules Luciano, of Caldwell, said, "They really liked working with the kids. And where will me and my friends go now for lunch and ice cream?”
According to the company’s website, the restaurant chain started as Friendly Ice Cream in Springfield, Mass. in 1935.
Michele Luciano contributed to this article.