It was reported in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle in an article by David Tyler that the Kessler Family LLC of Brighton, NY, the largest franchisee of Friendly Ice Cream Corp., may be interested in buying the chain.
The Kessler company said Monday it has retained Mastodon Ventures Inc., a merger-and-acquisition firm in Austin, Texas, to explore “strategic alternatives,” including the purchase of some or all of Friendly’s assets.
The move follows Friendly’s announcement last week that it had retained Goldman Sachs & Co. to explore its own set of strategic alternatives.
Friendly Ice Cream has a network of 530 franchised and company-owned restaurants and distributes ice cream at 4,500 supermarkets. The company has been in a public battle with Sardar Biglari, head of the Lion Fund and Western Sizzlin Corp., which controls about 15 percent of Friendly’s shares. Biglari and associate Philip Cooley are seeking seats on Friendly’s board.
The company has also drawn criticism from 91-year-old co-founder Prestley Blake, who was 20 when he and his brother opened an ice cream shop in Springfield, Mass., during the depths of the Depression, selling double-dip cones for a nickel.
Kessler Family, run by brothers Dennis and Laurence Kessler, is the largest Friendly’s franchisee, with 46 restaurants. Reached Monday, Dennis Kessler declined to comment, citing the early stage of the process.
Robert Hersch, a principal in Mastodon, said the Kesslers wanted to explore options because “they believe in the Friendly’s concept.”
“Most of this is up to Friendly’s,” Hersch said.
Asked if the Kesslers supported Biglari’s effort, he said, “no comment.”
In addition to the Friendly’s restaurants, Kessler Family owns upstate Burger King restaurants.