If you want to know just how severe the economic down-turn has been during COVID-19, two companies that own numerous shopping malls - including several around South Jersey - and the Friendly's Ice Cream restaurant chain have all just filed for bankruptcy protection.

Starting with the malls, CNBC reports Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) and CBL & Associates both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sunday.

PREIT is the largest mall owner in the greater Philadelphia region. They own and operate the Moorestown, Cherry Hill, and Cumberland Malls in South Jersey; they're in a partnership with another company which runs the Deptford Mall, they partially own Gloucester Premium Outlets off of the 42 Freeway, and they own the Fashion District (formerly The Gallery) along Market Street in Center City Philadelphia. Other regional properties include the Plymouth Meeting Mall, Exton Square Mall, and Willow Grove Park, all in Pennsylvania, along with additional malls across the country.

PREIT filed its petition as part of a pre-packaged financial restructuring plan as they hope to access $150 million in new borrowing.

As for CBL, they operate 107 malls and shopping centers across the country; the closest to our area are located in Pennsylvania and Maryland. In its bankruptcy filing, CBL listed its estimated assets and liabilities in the range of $1 to $10 billion, according to CNBC.

Both companies say all of the malls and shopping centers that they own and operate will remain open.

As for Friendly's, they have been working to keep their 85 restaurants above water for the past couple of years, but the pandemic appears to have been too big of a mountain to climb. Friendly's says they plan to sell their company to an investment firm in the near future. The New York Post reports Friendly's emerged from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing back in 2012 after they closed dozens of restaurants.

Locally, the Friendly's in Northfield closed in early 2019. Their restaurant in Turnersville/Washington Township has also closed.

Friendly's joins Ruby Tuesday, Chuck E. Cheese, and several other chains in bankruptcy court as companies left and right attempt to financially survive the pandemic.

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