Monday, May 4, 2015



Lake George, New York (JFK+50) When we were growing up in the Sixties, the Howard Johnson's Restaurants were among our favorite places to dine, and some of them were attached to motels where you could get a good night's sleep on the road.  By the 1960s, Howard Johnson's had become "the largest hospitality chain in the world."

Michael Hill of Associated Press, in an article published Sunday in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, says that there are only two "HoJo" restaurants still in service.  One is here in Lake George, and the other in Bangor, Maine. 

For those of you who are too young to remember, Howard Johnson's were famous for offering 28 flavors of ice cream and their buildings sported a unique orange roof with a distinctive "pie man on the weather vane."

The design of the restaurant building, including the orange roof, was the work of modernist architect Rufus Nims.

Mr. Hill writes that the third Howard Johnson's remaining, located at Lake Placid, "turned off its fryers a month ago after almost 60 years."

The restaurant chain was owned by Howard D. Johnson* who first opened a soda fountain in South Boston in 1925 when JFK was 7 or 8 years old.  By the 1970s, there were around 1000 Howard Johnson's restaurants in service. When Mr. Johnson passed away in 1972, however, the food quality as well as the chain itself began to decline.

Unlike the restaurants, the Howard Johnson brand is faring better these days in the hotel industry.  There are more than 400 Howard Johnson Hotels around the world, including one close to us in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The Howard Johnson's restaurant in Maine serves ice cream made by an in-state company and offers only 12 flavors instead of 28.  The original Bangor restaurant, operated now by John LaRock, had its' grand opening in 1966.  

There may be only one HJ's Restaurant remaining very soon because the Bangor location is operating on limited hours and the lease is set to expire, and if it is not leased, Kathe Jewett will find herself unemployed after waitressing there since it opened.  Mrs. Jewett's daughter, Julie, who has worked at the restaurant for 30 years, is now the manager.

*Howard Deering Johnson (1897-1972) was born in Boston & served in WWI.  He opened a soda shop which sold hand cranked ice cream in Quincy, MA in 1929.  He joined with Reginald Sprague to develop the 1st restaurant franchise in 1935.  HDJ retired in 1959 and lived in Milton, MA.

Howard Johnson's Restaurant
Photo by Christopher Ziemnowicz (1999)


"America's Landmark:  Under the Orange Roof," Host of the highways,"

"Last two HoJo restaurants serve up memories," by Michael Hill with contributions by Robert F. Bukaty and David Sharp, Knoxville News-Sentinel, May 3, 2015. 

"The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink," edited by Andrew Smith, Oxford University Press,