Howard Johnson’s was once the most prevalent restaurant chain in the United States. With their signature orange roofs, HoJo’s could be found in cities and towns from coast to coast.
But all good things must come to an end, and such is the case for HoJo’s.
The last Howard Johnson’s restaurant in the United States has shut its doors for good. Located in Lake George, New York, the location is listed as available for lease.
Bill Moon, the listing agent for Exit Realty Empire Associates, said the restaurant has been listed for lease since December and been closed since January or February.
Local residents had thought it might open for Memorial Day weekend when tourism in the area kicks into gear, but that didn’t happen and the property is officially closed.
Moon told the Washington Post that the 7,500-square-foot space is listed at $10 per square foot. Anyone who buys or leases the property can turn it into a restaurant, showroom, or flagship store, the listing states.
What it won’t be is a Howard Johnson’s.
“We know many people hold fond memories of dining at a Howard Johnson’s and have visited that location specifically for that feeling of nostalgia and to try to experience a memory,” said Amanda Metzger, marketing director of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Starting in the 1920s as an ice cream parlor connected to a pharmacy, it eventually grew into ice cream stores with 28 different flavors. It continued to grow over the years into a full-fledged restaurant with more than 1,000 locations across the country.
Hotels and motels were eventually part of the equation, but the restaurants are what Americans remember most over the past 9 decades.
Restaurants in Lake Placid, New York, and Bangor, Maine, closed in 2015 and 2016, respectively. That left the Lake George location as the final stand.
A few of the hotels still remain.
Historian Paul Freedman included HoJo’s in his book Ten Restaurants That Changed America. He called the restaurant comfortable to Americans due to its ambience and comfort food.
However, an abundance of fast-food choices that arrived at HoJo’s peak spelled its doom.
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