Bickford's history dates back to the 1920's, when Samuel Bickford opened his first Bickford's cafeteria. Throughout the next 40 years, Sam, and eventually his son, Harold, worked to expand their cafeteria chain throughout the Northeast and into California. However, it was not until 1959 that Harold introduced a new concept to New England, the first Bickford's Pancake House - the first such specialty restaurant in New England which opened in Peabody, Massachusetts in October, 1959. The concept was a huge success.
Over the next three decades, Bickford's Pancake House chain slowly grew to include 30 restaurants throughout New England and became a family restaurant that focused on breakfast, along with lunch and dinner offerings. Within the early to mid - 90's, the number grew to almost 70 and it continued to be known as a great New England breakfast tradition. As an expansion to the menu, fresh turkey, roasted daily in the restaurants, was used for Turkey Club, Hot Turkey Sandwich and a traditional Turkey Dinner.
Recently, the Bickford's chain has evolved and just like with the fresh turkey, other menu items were upgraded for overall improved lunch and dinner selections. For example, fresh seafood, delivered daily from Ipswich Shellfish Company, was a large addition to the fresh new menu. Top of the line products include scallops, haddock, whole-belly clams & lobster. The focus on preparation and execution to the guest was just as important as the quality of the products coming from the vendors, so complementary items were also brought in such as trans fat free oil for frying, the highest quality batter, and fresh vegetables to make the overall meal a "wow" in the eyes of the guest. Along with the seafood, a half pound U.S.D.A. choice sirloin Angus Beef Tips, Certified Angus burgers, sweet potatoes, extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar for our crisp salad offerings are all added to the superb meals now available to Bickford's guests.
In spite of Bickford's putting the emphasis on its quality of food, the public continued to fill the restaurants more at breakfast time than for lunch and dinner. To keep the breakfast customers satisfied while encouraging more business at lunch and dinner hours, in 2003, Bickford's made a commitment to upgrade restaurant cosmetics, create new signs, apply for beer and wine licenses, change uniforms and improve service. At this point, Woburn, Brockton, and Burlington, Massachusetts, plus Salem, New Hampshire, have progressed into this new and improved Bickford's, renamed Bickford's Grille.
According to Sandy Milley, the CEO & President of the company, "Our guests have responded really positively to the changes. We've kept the value in place while offering high quality meals during all parts of the day and that makes people come back more often."
Bickford's can now be everything to everyone. A large focus has been placed on take-out. Flat-screen T.V.'s have been added to the décor of many restaurants. Some of the locations even have private meeting rooms which can accommodate various groups, plus most restaurants offer liquor, beer or wine. Bickford's has a long history in New England and with the new improvements, continues to be a strong restaurant chain.