by Charlie Crowell
The Farm Shop chain of restaurants got its start in 1953 when the first location opened on Watertown Avenue in Waterbury. It was originally called “Litchfield Farm Shop” even though it wasn’t in Litchfield, or even Litchfield County.
For the younger crowd who never visited a Farm Shop, the operation was very similar to that of Friendly’s; casual table service dining with a strong emphasis on ice cream.
The company enjoyed a degree of success and by 1966 there were 20 locations open. The following year, the number was up to 22. One report says they eventually reached 50+ restaurants but that’s not very credible. I think they were pretty much stuck in the 20 to 30 range.
The chain remained a Connecticut business throughout its existence with its headquarters located in Middlebury. The company changed hands at least four times over the years including in 1979 when Hershey bought it.
In 1985, Farm Shops were located in Avon, Berlin, Bloomfield, Bristol, Cheshire (Maplecroft Plaza), Danbury, Farmington, Glastonbury, Hartford, Middletown (2), Naugatuck, New Haven, North Haven, Orange, Southbury, Southington, Southport, Vernon, Waterbury (3), West Hartford and Windsor.
The end came in October of 1987 when Friendly’s bought the company. Throughout 1988, they converted the Farm Shop locations into Friendly’s Restaurants, although they also closed some units they deemed as not profitable or too close to existing Friendly’s stores.