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Howard Johnson's, Roadside Eats Icon, Faces Extinction

From 800 locations to just one


An iconic American restaurant is officially going the way of the dinosaurs: Diner chain Howard Johnson's, which at one point had more than 800 locations dotting the country, will soon have just one location left.

The next-to-last HoJo's, as the erstwhile roadside staple was affectionately known, is located in Bangor, Maine and will shutter in the first week of September, according to the AP.

Howard Johnson's AP

Founded in the 1920s, New England-based Howard Johnson's was the nation's biggest restaurant chain in the 60s; those too young to have actually visited one may remember seeing it in a Mad Men episode. The orange-roofed restaurants served classic American diner fare like burgers and milkshakes, as well as dozens of flavors of ice cream — Don Draper was fond of the orange sherbet — and a regional specialty, fried clam strips. Coupled with adjoining hotels, HoJo's offered travelers a place to get a hot meal and stay overnight. (The separate hotel business is now owned by Wyndham, with hundreds of locations still in business.)

The Bangor location has been open since 1966, and at least one of the waitresses has worked there for the restaurant's entire 50-year lifespan. The owners say business has slowed in recent years, giving them no choice but to shutter. A Lake Placid, New York location suffered a similar fate last year.

Meanwhile, the only other HoJo's, in Lake George, New York, is reportedly still going strong, and intends to cater to nostalgic visitors for years to come.

• Howard Johnson's Restaurant to Close, Leaving Only 1 More [AP via WaPo]

• One of the Last Three Remaining Howard Johnson's Closes [E]