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Bonefish Grill Poised to Open at Friendly's Site (Update)

Montgomery Township Supervisors voted Monday night to approve a public hearing for a liquor license transfer and they also waived land development for the applicant

Monday, 10:42 p.m. Update

Supervisors voted unanimously Monday night to set August 27 for the public hearing on the liquor license transfer.

"Bonefish Grill submitted an application to transfer a liquor license from another municipality in Montgomery County to this site, which requires a public hearing by law," said planning and zoning director Bruce Shoupe.

Supervisors Vice Chairman Joe Walsh asked when Friendly's is projected to close.

Shoupe reluctantly said the township has not figured that out yet.

"The closing date is unclear right now," Shoupe said.

"I wanted to get my kids out for one last scoop," Walsh said.

"Get them out quick there, if you would," said John Murphy, of Alpha Consulting Engineers, the firm representing Bonefish Grill, which is a subsidiary of

There is an unconfirmed report that the Airport Square Friendly's location has not notified its employees of the closure of the restaurant. 

Friendly Ice Cream Corp., which celebrated its 77th anniversary on Saturday, July 21, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 5, 2011. Most of the current restaurants are franchises.

The Montgomeryville (North Wales) location is one of 13 restaurants owned by franchisee Jeff Blum and his company, AKZ Delaware Valley Hospitality Inc., according to the Pottstown Mercury.

AKZ Delaware Valley Hospitality also owns the Friendly's restaurants in East Norriton, Lansdale, Bensalem, Langhorne, Neshaminy Mall, Morrisville, Fort Washington, Warminster, Horsham, Doylestown, Harrisburg and Gap.

A call to the Friendly's Restaurant Monday afternoon was answered by an employee who confirmed the restaurant is still open at this point and was unaware of any closure.

Bonefish Grill is proposing to add a 310-square-foot outdoor waiting area at the front of the building, add a 540-square-foot outdoor patio and lounge area at the side of the building and add a 263-square-foot storage/freezer area to the rear of the building, according to documents. Total additions are 1,200 square feet, according to a report from John Murphy of Alpha Consulting Engineers.

The waiting area will be parallel with Bethlehem Pike, and the outdoor patio will be perpendicular to Bethlehem Pike, facing Route 202.

"That's a great restaurant," said Supervisor Robert Birch. 

A Bonefish Grill location exists in Willow Grove.

"I think you'll enjoy it. It will be a good addition to the community," said Murphy.

Supervisor Chairman Candyce Chimera said the supervisors were invited to the wait staff training night.

"We'll see if we can spill something on you," joked Murphy.

Earlier Story

Montgomery Township Supervisors Monday night will vote on two items that are pertinent for Bonefish Grill to move into the existing location at in Montgomeryville.

It is unknown at this time if Friendly's is closing or relocating.

Supervisors Monday night will approve or deny a request for a public hearing on August 27 for a liquor license transfer by Bonefish Grill, LLC of Tampa, FL.

The liquor license is proposed to be transferred from the now closed Solaris Grille, which was located at 2665 Skippack Pike in Worcester, according to township documents.

The closest licensed establishment is , located 300 feet away, according to township documents.

Documents also states that an inactive liquor license exists under Habib Troudi of Ristorante Castello Inc., of 1200 Welsh Road, Montgomery Township.

Supervisors Monday will also vote on a request by Bonefish Grill to waive the land development process for the conversion of the existing Friendly's, according to township documents.

The applicant is proposing to add a 310-square-foot outdoor waiting area at the front of the building, add a 540-square-foot outdoor patio and lounge area at the side of the building and add a 263-square-foot storage/freezer area to the rear of the building, according to documents. Total additions are 1,200 square feet, according to a report from John Murphy of Alpha Consulting Engineers.

The township Zoning Hearing Board on July 10 approved the land development addition. In addition, the township planning commission approved the plan subject to compliance with comments from township agencies.

The applicant is also requesting a waiver of a traffic study on the site, in lieu of a $3,000 contribution to future traffic studies along the Route 309 corridor following completion of the Route 202 Parkway project, according to a proposed Montgomery Township resolution.

Kevin Johnson, of Traffic Planning & Design, said a traffic management study is required, which would cost around $5,000. However, Traffic Planning and Design could support a waiver request from the subdivision and land development ordinance if funding is provided for future studies.

He wrote in a July 16 letter that the addition of the storage/freezer area will "expand the area available for patrons."

"These three improvements will increase the effective square footage by roughly 30 percent," wrote Johnson. "Friendly's Restaurants do not have a bar and in 45 years of patronizing them, I have never had to wait more than five minutes for a table. By comparison, Bonefish Grills have a significant volume of bar-only traffic and a full bar with 30-minute waits for dinner are not uncommon during the weekend."

Township engineer Gilmore and Associates, in a July 13 letter to township zoning and planning director Bruce Shoupe, said Bonefish Grill would need to provide a parking space for every three chairs of seating, and that the outdoor dining area is permitted as an accessory use by special exception in the Shopping Center District.

Gilmore and Associates also ask Bonefish Grill to comply with the construction of a curb ramp on the south side of the building. Stormwater management is not an issue, as the proposed disturbed area is less than one acre and there is no net additional impervious coverage.

There are no landscape requirement issues either, according to Judith Stern Goldstein, director of landscape architecture and planning for Boucher & James Inc.

This story will be updated following Monday night's Montgomery Township Board of Supervisors meeting.

shaney w July 24, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Why can't it be the friendlys on broad street. The friendly at airport square is so much better and bigger.
s graver July 29, 2012 at 04:05 PM
of course they're gonna close down the better friendlys because thats what happens when you sit on a board and have no clue whats going on around you...and of course that's what montgomeryville needs...ANOTHER ,corporate run, restaurant. Who is making the decisions in our township?
Fire18 October 07, 2012 at 10:34 PM
It's because the company is bankrupt and the owner has decided not to continue the operation I the business. I'd rather see one less abandoned building in montgomeryville.

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