Bristol Roundup Statewide News

Throwback Thursday: Farm Shop Restaurants

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.

Photo credit: Charlie Crowell
Photo credit: Charlie Crowell

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.

Photo credit: Charlie Crowell
Photo credit: Charlie Crowell

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.

Photo credit: Charlie Crowell
Photo credit: Charlie Crowell

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.

Photo credit: Charlie Crowell
Photo credit: Charlie Crowell

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.

 

The Roundup team works hard to report, create and aggregate news stories that helps The Connecticut Roundup serve as a user’s guide for everything Connecticut, both in print and online. Through world-class design, bold photography, and captivating writing, they point you to the best in local news, business professionals, food, drink, arts, culture, fashion, and more. You can contact this group of amazing people at team@ctroundupmedia.com.

3 comments on “Throwback Thursday: Farm Shop Restaurants

  1. Peter Hoover

    I know for a fact that there were Farm Shops in Fairfield County, because we always went there. Norwalk, Westport, Stamford to mention 3 locations.

  2. I stand by my facts. There may have been 40 some-odd locations opened through the years and the numbers assigned to the new Farm Shops kept climbing, but they closed a lot of stores along the way. At no time did Farm Shop have 30 units operating at the same time

    Carvel did the same thing. In 1980 they opened store #2111, yet there were only about 800 stores in business at the time. The rest had all gone out of business.

    As for the headquarters being located in Middlebury, I personally visited the headquarters about 1977. It was an unlikely spot for a headquarters but that’s where it was.

    Most of the information posted here came from old newspaper archives. The advertising images are from my personal files.

  3. I don’t know where you got your information but it’s a bit off. Farm shop was not headquartered in Middlebury. The Crowe Family one of the founding families from Litchfield(hence the Litchfield Farm Shop) owned the company until it was sold to Friendly’s. The Hershey reference you made is when Hershey bought the Friendly’s Chain of Restaurants. Yes there were close to 50 stores. When Avon Farm Shop opened in 1982 it was number 42, and 2 or 3 others with higher stores numbers were opened around the same time. Perhaps some fact checking should be done before you strike keys on a keyboard