What was once one of America's most iconic and popular chains, is now down to just two locations. According to NPR, one of the last three Howard Johnson's restaurants closed its doors this week. Located in Lake Placid, N.Y., the restaurant opened in April of 1956. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the owners of the Lake Placid location are getting old and their children are "not interested" in taking over. So, they sold the restaurant to new owners who plan to turn the building into a "high-end roadside diner."
Howard Johnson's — which was often referred to as HoJo's — was "the most successful of the early chain restaurants in the United States." At one point there were nearly 1,000 of them across the country. HoJo's was so popular that it used to sell a line of frozen foods. The chain was perhaps most famous for its signature orange roof and range of 28 ice cream flavors. The restaurant even makes an appearance on Mad Men, the hit TV show set in the 1960s.
However, business declined in the 1980s as more and more competitors entered the market with "fresher, more appealing menus." Regardless, the restaurant still evokes a deep sense of nostalgia for for those who dined there as children, especially Baby Boomers. Two older businessmen tell NPR, that they came to the restaurant as boys, and then brought their own kids. One of them adds, "It's a landmark — everyone has good memories." For those who want to dine at a Howard Johnson's, the two remaining locations are in Bangor, Maine and Lake George, N.Y.
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