S. Prestley Blake, the co-founder of the Friendly’s restaurant chain which he founded with his brother Curtis in 1935, has passed away. He was 106 years old.
Blake died Thursday after a brief illness at a hospital near his home in Stuart, Fla. His niece, Holly Schroeder said.
“He lived a busy life, until the end, I can assure you,” she said.
The Blake brothers opened the first Friendly ice cream store in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1935, with a loan of $ 547 from their mother. They sold double-spooned cones for 5 cents each, half the price local soda fountains were charging, according to his autobiography, “A Friendly Life.”
The store began selling coffee and burgers during the winter months, eventually becoming the Friendly’s restaurant chain, which had over 500 locations across the eastern United States at its peak in the 1970s.
The brothers sold the business to Hershey Foods in 1979 for $ 164 million.
It has changed owners several times since, with controlling interests seeking bankruptcy protection in 2011 and 2020 and more than 300 sites have closed in the past decade.
The chain, with just over 130 stores remaining, was bought last month in bankruptcy proceedings by Amici Partners for $ 1.9 million.
Curtis Blake died in 2019 at the age of 102.
S. Prestley Blake lived for years in Somers, Connecticut, where in 2014 he built a replica of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello mansion.
The house was eventually donated, along with other properties in Somers, to Michigan-based Hillsdale College to establish the Blake Center for Freedom and Faith.
Blake was known for his philanthropy, donating millions to local schools, hospitals and charities.
He is survived by his wife, Helen, their two children, several stepchildren, five grandchildren and his sister, photographer and author Betsy Melvin, Schroeder said.
The funeral was incomplete on Friday.