The Last Howard Johnson’s Restaurant?

THIS IS IT, the site of the last Howard Johnson’s restaurant is up for sale, in scenic Lake George, NY. The HoJo’s restaurant there has been closed for awhile, though the owner of the property says the restaurant’s owner might be running “offseason hours.”  At any rate, this is the last restaurant in the chain.

Howard Johnson’s once was the largest restaurant chain in the U.S. during the 1960’s and 1970’s with over 1,000 outlets.  Growing up, the orange roof of the restaurants and the motels was a clarion call of anticipation and happiness – we often stayed in a Howard Johnson’s motel when my non-nuclear family traveled to New Hampshire every year for Thanksgiving and in addition to the thrill of traveling and staying in a motel, it also had an indoor pool.  Every year I would go to Howard Johnson’s for my birthday dinner –  I don’t recall wanting to go anywhere else – and every year I would get a free slice of chocolate cake with white icing, that unfortunately had coconut flakes in the icing and I don’t like coconut. So every year I would carefully take out the coconut flakes, but I didn’t care.  One year  I got a metal toy tractor-trailer truck emblazoned with the logo. I still smile when I think of that truck.

By the end of the last century a combination of bad management, no marketing, and competition spelled the death knell for the venerable chain. I miss seeing the restaurants and the motels everywhere. I believe in capitalism, but nostalgia often makes that belief difficult.

#howardjohnsons #travel #restaurants #nostalgia

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