Remember HoJo’s?

Besides my obsession with diners, I have a soft spot for the former “Landmark for Hungry Americans”, Howard Johnson’s Restaurants. Currently there are only 3 restaurants operating under this name and one of them is only open in the summer.  There is one in Bangor, Maine and two in upstate New York, Lake Placid and Lake George (this one is seasonal). I have photographed a handful of these places over the years and even have some memorabilia.

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I just got a new “old” post card into my collection. It is a great view of the Howard Johnson’s Restaurant once located in Williamstown, Mass. This is actually one I have passed too many times to mention. My buddy John Baeder did a wonderful oil painting of this a number of years ago. I recall for a time in the 1980’s it may actually have been operated as another restaurant briefly but came back to being a HoJo’s in the 1990’s. My wife Denise and I actually had a meal (or snack) there on the way back from upstate New York during this later period.

As in most cases this location eventually closed and was repurposed. It was transformed into a bank without sacrificing its colonial styling. In fact the postcard reveals what the original entance looked like prior to a later updating. Ironically, the people who did the transformation into the bank did their homework and imitated the original design of the entry, not at the entry but to either side of it. They created bow windows with railings on the top that are fairly close to what the entry use to look like.

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Three great fan websites for HoJo’s are http://www.hojoland.com/hojosnyc.html  and http://www.highwayhost.org/Orangeroof/index.html as well as http://www.slamtrak.com/hojo2003/

2 thoughts on “Remember HoJo’s?

  1. This Howard Johnson’s was located maybe 30 miles from where I grew up, and just the other side of the mountain from my grandparents’ home in Petersburg, NY. In the 1960s it was a popular place – the parking lot was always jammed for Sunday dinner. I can confirm that in the 1980s this dropped out of the chain and operated independently (unsure of name: The Main Event? The Main Attraction? -something like that.) The building at that time was painted in Ho Jo’s “environmental” tan and brown color scheme of the 1970s, so they painted the orange roof brown, but the paint kept peeling off. In the early 1990s they just peeled off the rest of the paint and became a Howard Johnson’s again. I stopped there in probably 1992. Unfortunately the wonderful sign shown in the postcard was long gone and they had a bland sign with the Franchise Associates Ho Jo logo. Later they painted the building back to its original white color.

    While it’s not a perfect restoration, Hoosac Bank deserves praise for what they have done. This will probably be the only building left that shows what Howard Johnson’s from this era looked like. There is a similar ex-Ho Jo’s in East Greenbush, NY which would be a good candidate for restoration, but I am not optimistic this will be done.

  2. Although not a perfect restoration, Hoosac Bank deserves praise for what they did. This is probably the only building left that shows what Howard Johnson appeared at that time. There is a similar ex-Ho Jo in East Greenbush, New York would be a good candidate for restoration, but I’m not optimistic that will take place.

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