Open for most of the past 70 years, the restaurant was located in Lake George, New York, a popular summer vacation spot near the Adirondack Mountains. The restaurant has closed for the past few weeks and the property is rented out, according to a local subsidiary.
“Lake George is officially dead” a Howard Johnson fan wrote on Facebook, adding several photos of the abandoned restaurant. “Cobwebs on the door. Just before Memorial Day, rush here.”
The longtime roadside staple had about 1,000 restaurants in the 1960s and 1970s, and it was once America’s largest restaurant chain. Instantly recognizable for its orange roofs, diners served 28 types of ice cream and became part of American culture. “Mad Men” recreated the restaurant to film a scene.
But Howard Johnson quickly found himself in the shadow of McDonald’s and other fast-food chains that maximize efficiency and better manage supply chains. Marriott bought a crippled Howard Johnson in 1985, selling hundreds of brand hotels and about 200 restaurants to Prime Motor Inn. This company sold the restaurants to other chains, and they lost the “HoJo” name.
Over the past decade, only a handful of Howard Johnson restaurants were still in operation: the one in Lake George, as well as one in Lake Placid, New York, and another in Bangor, Maine. The Lake Placid restaurant closed in 2015 and the Bangor restaurant closed in 2016.
The Lake George location has “seen interest” since it came up for rent late last year, News 10 reports. The real estate listing for the 7,500-square-foot property indicates a price of $10.
Although Howard Johnson restaurants are closed, the hotel chain is still alive and well. There are around 300 locations and it is currently owned by hotel giant Wyndham.
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