BANGOR, Maine (Diya TV) – At its peak, Howard Johnson restaurants had over 800 locations across the U.S. Now, the iconic American brand will be whittled down to just a single location – the restaurant in Bangor, Maine will shutter in just a matter of weeks on Sept. 6.
The closing will bring to an end Mainers having access to fried claim strips, ice cream and the countless other menu items that nourished the generation of baby boomers and leave the once-proud restaurant chain teetering on the brink of extinction.
For waitress Kathe Jewett, it’s the only job she’s held since starting work when the restaurant opened in 1966.
“It’s bittersweet, but it’s nothing to be sad about,” the 68-year-old Jewett said. “I’ve been here for 50 years – and it’s time.”
The closing will leave only one Howard Johnson restaurant, in Lake George, New York.
Before falling on disparaging economic times, Howard Johnson took restaurant franchises to a new level. As mentioned previously, the orange-roofed eateries once numbered more than 800, with the New England-based restaurant chain predating the ubiquitous Howard Johnson hotels. Howard Deering Johnson launched the business himself in 1925, it came after he inherited a soda fountain outside Boston. That soon evolved into a chain of restaurants that served comfort food and featured 28 flavors of ice cream. The orange roof with a blue spire represented a dependable place for travelers to park the family car, grab a meal and spend the night.
In Bangor, the Howard Johnson Restaurant and Lounge in its heyday was popular with travelers and locals alike, including horror and science fiction author Stephen King. King, who lives in Bangor, said he used to eat there often and enjoyed the patty melts and milkshakes.
Indian-American owners David and Sally Patel kept the restaurant afloat for the past four years, business began dwindling, so the couple were forced to cut hours and scale back to serving strictly breakfast and lunch.
“It’s not worth it to keep it open. We tried for four years,” Sally Patel. “We felt bad to close it.”
Fortunately for HoJo fans, the restaurant in New York appears to be doing just as much business as ever. The New York restaurant does make use of modern technology to help them manage all of these orders. By using a cloud-based POS system, like the one offered by Revel Systems, restaurants are able to allow online orders and improved customer relationship management. All of this ensures that customers have good experiences in the restaurant. To provide customers with unforgettable experiences at your restaurant, you have to ensure that you’re buying quality restaurant supplies from a retailer like Nella so that you’re stocked up on everything you need to make great food and memories – appliances, utensils, work surfaces, cutlery, dinnerware, and more.
“We’re doing great,” owner John LaRock said. “We’re going to do some renovations this winter. Spruce it up, keep it going.”
He said it’s a “good feeling” to be keeping the HoJo legacy alive.
“Knowing I have the only one left makes it special,” he said.