WORCESTER – John M. Maguire’s friends and family questioned his sanity when he told them he was leaving his post as chief operating officer of Panera Bread.

“They all said, ‘What, are you nuts? You gotta fix Friendly’s!'” the chief operating officer of Friendly’s Ice Cream recalled.

Ensconced in that role in 2012 following Friendly’s bankruptcy debacle, Mr. Maguire has committed to bringing the national chain “back to its rightful place as one of the iconic brands in America.”

Mr. Maguire contemplated the ice cream institution’s future direction before addressing the Worcester Economic Club at the College of the Holy Cross Thursday night. The Weymouth native, 50, holds a bachelor’s degree in bakery science and management from Kansas State University, and a master’s degree in advanced management from the Harvard Business School. Besides Panera, he previously held positions with Au Bon Pain, Bread and Circus/Whole Foods Supermarkets, and the Continental Baking Co. He replaced Harsha Agadi as the Friendly’s chief, after his predecessor resigned in the midst of the turmoil besetting the home-grown restaurant network.

Mr. Maguire sees the road to resurgence based upon three key factors: “Great people, craveable food and a restaurant environment that’s clean and energizing.”

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Source: Telegram.com