Before comfort food meant opening your DoorDash app, Baby Boomers and Generation X headed to Howard Johnson’s, a national restaurant chain serving up their trademark fried clams and 28 different varieties of ice cream—all of it easily spotted thanks to a distinctive orange roof.

Those days are officially over, for nearly one hundred years, the last “HoJo’s” has finally shuttered its doors.

The restaurant and motel chain was once such a staple of American cuisine that Stanley Kubrick included it in his 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Four decades later, TV’s “Mad Men” recreated the restaurant for a scene in which the Drapers visited the flagship in Plattsburgh, New York.

Howard Johnson had three locations as recently as 2015 when a location closed in Lake Placid, New York. Another, in Bangor, Maine, shut down in 2016. Those were about a decade after its Times Square outlet closed for good.

The chain struggled to keep up with the competition from McDonald’s and other fast food outlets and was bought by Marriott in 1985 before being broken up and sold to Prime Motor Inn.

The Lake George location went up for lease in 2021 and the listing for the 7,500-square-foot property is asking just $10 — likely in an effort to generate interest in a difficult property.

A former vending machine salesman bought the Lake George location in 2015 and was later arrested and convicted of harassing at least 15 staffers. The restaurant reopened under a new owner, who kept it running for the last several years.

According to AWM, 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.

Another person had been there in January and “Had an amazing pot roast there at the end of this past January! Great service too!”

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.

While the Howard Johnson restaurants are no more, the Howard Johnson by Wyndham hotel chain is still alive, with almost 300 locations across the country.

Source: AWM

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