I realize that there’s a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Lake George, New York, but, for a chain that once had 1,000 locations across the nation, there might as well be zero.
The amount of information that’s available online about this stories chain is paltry at best. I found a few websites that I’ll be linking to in subsequent posts. Unfortunately, these websites leave a lot of details out. You will have a hard time piecing together even a fractured story from all these sources. How does that happen?
Normally I rail against chain restaurants. I detest everything they stand for and believe their independent counterparts are far superior. In the case of Howard Johnson’s Restaurants, I never had the opportunity to visit any of their locations. A majority of them closed before I reached my formative years. I’m not even sure there ever was a location in Utah. My investigations have shown that there might have been one in Salt Lake City. This report is based on one webpage though. I will have to verify it before I can write a post.
Another baffling thing about Howard Johnson’s Restaurants is that there’s no clear cut list of former locations. I found a list, but a lot of the addresses are missing. I have found postcards to fill in the gaps. I will profile every address I find as well as what the location looks like in the present day. I’m hoping to find a few remaining locations that are intact.
It appears that the Howard Johnson’s brands are owned by Wyndham on the hotel side and a couple of other entities on the restaurant side. I plan to reach out to everyone involved to see where the brand is now and what’s coming down the line. I will encourage them to revive the brand, underscoring the fact that it’s so iconic that it deserves better than the treatment it’s getting.
I don’t think any work needs to be done to bring the brand back. I hate it when companies squeeze all the life out of a brand under the guise of modernizing it. Clearly, when people freak out at the prospect of the last location closing, the brand still has some life. Rather than sapping what goodwill it has left, whoever owns the brand needs to hand it over to someone who can spread it to the masses or do it by themselves.
I struggled with coming up with a name for my Howard Johnson’s series. I didn’t want to give it a generic name because that would downplay the plans I have for it. I decided on Take Me Back to Howard Johnson’s. In the words of Adam The Woo, “Join me, shall you?”
If you want to send me feedback or suggestions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Articles in this Series
1. Take Me Back to Howard Johnson’s Introduction
2. Where Have All the HOJO’s Commercials Gone?
3. So You Wanna Build a HOJO’s?
4. Lake George’s Howard Johnson’s Restaurant: A Good Place to Startto Start