Nation's Last HoJos Closes

The Lake George diner, serving 28 flavors of ice cream, was built in 1953
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2022 5:45 PM CDT
Nation's Last HoJos Closes
Customers walk into Howard Johnson's Restaurant in Lake George, N.Y., in 2015.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

(Newser) – Once the largest restaurant chain in the US, the Howard Johnson's diners were down to their last orange roof by 2016. Now that location, in Lake George, New York, has shut its doors. The restaurant had served visitors to the Adirondack Mountains region for nearly 70 years, per CNN. "Cobwebs on the door," a local Facebook poster wrote. About 1,000 of the roadside cultural landmarks were serving fried clams and 28 flavors of ice cream in the 1960s, per the Albany Times Union. Then came fast-food chains, including McDonald's.

The chain was sold and resold in pieces, starting in 1985, losing the rights to the "HoJo" nickname along the way. The "Howard Johnson" name still appears on hotels, motels, and motor lodges, and is now owned by Wyndham. The restaurant chain made appearances in the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and the TV series Mad Men. The Lake George diner, which was built in 1953, was sold in 2015 to a salesman who was then convicted of harassing 15 employees. A new owner took over for the past few years and dealt with pandemic interruptions, like restaurants everywhere. No reason was given for the permanent shutdown. (Read more Howard Johnson's stories.)

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