For nearly one hundred years, diners have been able to enjoy a hearty meal at one of the franchise locations of Howard Johnson’s. However, the tradition has finally come to an end after the restaurant chain, which was the first franchise restaurant group in the United States, officially closed its last location in Lake George, New York, putting a tradition millions of people enjoyed into the past.
“Lake George is officially dead,” Alyssa Kelly, of the HoJoLand fan group who has been documenting the restaurant’s struggle for years, wrote on Facebook, according to Daily Mail. “Plastic tables and chairs removed. All memorabilia removed (that is not original, that stays with the building). Cobwebs on the door.”
By the 2010s, there were only three Howard Johnson’s locations left. This one was located in Lake George but was not associated with the franchise. The other two were in Lake Placid, New York, and Bangor, Maine. The location in Lake Placid closed its doors for good in 2015, while the Bangor, Maine location shut up shop the following year, 2016.
When the Lake George location opened in 1953, it was one franchise out of more than one thousand around the country. Because of its desirable location in the Adirondack Mountains, tourists would often stop at Howard Johnson’s restaurant location for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as they drove to and from their final destination.
The restaurant turned into the Lake George Family Restaurant in 2015 but maintained the iconic Howard Johnson’s branding and name. However, the restaurant found itself struggling to stay afloat after the establishment’s operator, Johnathan LaRock, faced charges for harassing 15 female employees, including some as young as age fourteen.
Despite recent struggles, customers are sad that Howard Johnson’s has done the way of the dinosaurs.
“This is a sad loss. They served so many people at an affordable price. Guess as an affluent society, we’re no longer concerned about the average American family!” wrote one social media user.
Dave Hood expressed his sorrow that he and his wife would never be able to enjoy a Howard Johnson’s meal together ever again.
“My wife and I stayed in Lake George a week ago and were hoping to eat there. We both used to work for Ron Butler at the Lake Placid HoJo’s, and I used to manage for the NY State division of the corporate restaurants in the 70s,” he wrote.
What do you think about America’s loss of Howard Johnson’s restaurant franchise?