Yesterday, just a little more than 12 hours after learning they no longer had jobs at the Branford , seniors, Kimberly Mirto and Morgan Vollero hit the pavement in search of work.
“On the application, where it says, ‘when are you available,’ we’re writing ASAP for all of them,” said Mirto.
After finishing her four and half-hour shift at Friendly’s Sunday at 4:30 p.m., Vollero said she clocked out and headed home with no indication that the restaurant . “Nobody said absolutely anything about it,” commented Vollero. An employee of Friendly’s for one year, Vollero said she was shocked to find out about the restaurant closing for good via Facebook Sunday night.
Vollero called Mirto, who had been with Friendly’s for about 18 months, to tell her the bad news Sunday night. “It closed overnight. That’s scary,” commented Mirto.
Yesterday, before heading out to downtown Branford to put in applications at area restaurants, the girls said they stopped by Friendly’s to say goodbye to their former managers who were working to clean the place out. “You’re used to seeing it so bright and shiny and now it’s empty,” said Vollero.
Friendly’s in Branford at 30 Leetes Island Rd., was one of nine franchises closed without notice yesterday by the corporation. The closest closed restaurants were and . Guilford Friendly’s was closed at the end of 2011. The company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in October, 2011. You can read more about .
Rumors, the girls said, had been circulating around Branford Friendly’s about the store closing since the Guilford store closed. Mirto said she was under the impression that Branford would stay open as it was a top-performing store in the state – the performance measure of the restaurant could not be confirmed.
Via press release, Maura C. Tobias of Friendly’s said, “Since entering Chapter 11 in October 2011, the company has sought to work with our landlords to restructure lease arrangements at locations where we believed rents did not reflect current market conditions and were significantly impacting the viability of underperforming restaurants. While we were able to successfully restructure lease agreements for a number of locations, unfortunately, we were unable to reach an acceptable agreement for Branford, Leetes Island Road. Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to close this Friendly’s effective at the close of business on Sunday January 8th.”
Mirto, who is turning 18 today, said she was scared to be unemployed and shocked to receive the packet for filing for assistance. “I don’t even know if I am old enough to file,” she said.
“It’s scary,” Vollero commented, “to think of the adults that worked there and that’s how they pay their bills.”
As fulltime high school students, the girls said the money they made during their 10-20-hour workweeks at Friendly’s went toward paying car insurance and for gas money. They are now looking for similar jobs with the hope to also save up for college – Vollero is hoping for a career in speech pathology and Mirto has her sights set on pursuing radiology.
For now the girls think they would be best suited for jobs in the restaurant industry with experience at Friendly’s greeting, working the ice cream fountain and waitressing. After applying to and , they headed downtown Branford to put in job applications. After applying at they said they were headed to and to apply. “We have the experience scooping ice cream,” said Mirto who was hopeful that Ashley’s or Ben & Jerry’s would call her for an interview.
The girls said they were two of about 30 to 40 employees of the Branford Friendly’s who lost their jobs yesterday. In thinking about the tough economy they could face after graduating high school, both girls said their first experience getting laid off was eye opening. “I am petrified,” said Mirto. “I don’t want that to ever happen to me with a real job.”