HoJo’s no mo’: The last remnant of ‘the oranging of America’ has closed

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. — Howard Johnson’s restaurants are no more. The last of the once-pervasive restaurant chain known to baby boomers for its orange roofs, 28 ice cream flavors and fried clam strips has been closed for good.

Gone with it: a slice of roadside American once so pervasive that it inspired the acclaimed Max Apple book “The Oranging of America.”

The last remaining HoJo’s restaurant — just south of Lake George, N.Y., in the Adirondack Mountains — is for lease. And a post on the Facebook site HoJoLand said plastic tables, chair and memorabilia were removed, and there were “cobwebs on the door.”

Bill Moon, the listing agent, said there was interest in the property, which could be used for another restaurant or a different business.

“It’s a great location and just looking for the person with the right vision to take it forward,” Moon said.

The orange roofs with blue spires that baby boomers grew up with eventually gave way to a more sedate color scheme. But the chain faded away with the rise of fast-food outlets.

The old Howard Johnson’s at 9333 N. Skokie Blvd. in Skokie in the 1960s.

The old Howard Johnson’s at 9333 N. Skokie Blvd. in Skokie in the 1960s.


By early 2015, there were only a few restaurants left there were still operating under the Howard Johnson’s name. Then, a HoJo’s in Lake Placid, New York, closed that year and one in Bangor, Maine, in 2016, leaving only the Lake George location, though hotels are still operating under the Howard Johnson’s name.

The Wyndham Hotel Group has rights to the name and had allowed remaining restaurants to use the brand name based on grandfathered contracts.

A man who leased the Lake George HoJo’s in 2015 after it was closed for several years was convicted of harassing staffers. It reopened under a new operator, who kept it running for the past several years, with pandemic-related pauses, according to the Times-Union in Albany, N.Y.

HoJo’s history dates to 1925, when Howard Deering Johnson inherited a soda fountain outside Boston.

That single location grew to be a chain of as many as 800 restaurants offering comfort food and a recognizable place for travelers to pull in with the family, have a meal and spend the night.