Howard Johnson’s

Howard Johnson's postcardThere was a time when a town of any substance was sure to have a Howard Johnson’s restaurant, often adjacent to one of their hotels. My parents always regarded a Howard Johnson’s as a “safe” place to stay or eat, as the quality was consistent from one to another all across the nation. I also recall that my Mother, who loved Coca-Cola, couldn’t stand the Howard Johnson version, the “Ho Jo Cola”, and that very issue sometimes resulted in our staying at a Best Western or Holiday Inn instead.
Founded in 1925 by Howard Deering Johnson in Quincy, Massachusetts, the first Howard Johnson’s was actually a drug store, one that thrived after installing a soda fountain. That set the course for the future, as the chain of restaurants to come would be known for their 28 flavors of ice cream. In the mid-1950s the number of Howard Johnson’s franchises propelled the total number of restaurants to 400, many of which were conveniently located on turnpikes. The restaurants, and adjacent motor lodges that were built throughout the late ’50s, thrived on the tourist business, and families like my own often looked for the distinctive orange roof when vacationing. But the Arab oil embargo of 1974 marked the beginning of the end for the American family vacation, the annual summer road trip to visit relatives or see the sights. Fuel costs made such trips impractical, and the Howard Johnson’s chain was impacted greatly. In free-fall by the late ’70s, the iconic chain was soon just a memory. Just a note of interest: close examination of the postcard reveals that a telephone pole was removed from the image, just to the right of the “steeple”.


Howard Johnson’s — 2 Comments

  1. Lee:
    This appears to be the store in Miami Shores, FL. It was located on NE 2nd Avenue and 95th Street.

    Entirely possible, Lee. The vegetation has a certain Florida look, doesn’t it?


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