Friday, September 19, 2008

Last of the HoJo's

To those under 30, heck, to those under 25, "Howard Johnsons" means nothing. Howard Johnson's was one of the first national hotel chains, and their calling card -- yummy ice cream -- assured familes of a good time even if they were only pulling off the road for a meal. HoJo's bright orange facades could be seen on Main Street as well as along state highways (we're talking pre-Interstate). The Times Square HoJo's closed in '04, I think. On its final day they were even selling the menus. I love the bold neon, the whacky 70s era floor tile, and the 40s era art deco styled "Howard Johnson's" entrance tile. By the time this HoJo's closed the food was horrible and crackheads and hookers held court in the bathrooms, but it still looked magnificent to me.
70s green and orange!

Like so much in old New York these days, the party' s over...

22 comments:

EV Grieve said...

Wow. The memories! Thanks for posting these, Ken.

Laurie said...

That tile is spectacular. Great shots, Ken. I remember Howard Johnsons from my childhood vacations.

Wayne said...

I'm over 25 (way over) and I enjoy the nostalgic stuff Ken.

I walked by here last week and couldn't even tell you what's there.

We have a HJ in Vancouver but it seems to be just like a Ramada Inn or Holiday Inn. Nothing unique about it as far as I can tell.

What I remember about HJ is driving in New England and stopping for the all you can eat fried clams. And living to tell the story.

enitharmon said...

I used to like Howard Johnson back in the days when I spent a lot of time over there. I have enjoyed fried clams and ice cream at the restaurant in Inlet, NY (in the Adirondacks) many times, and have often been heard complaining that, if we were going to be overrun by an American restaurant chain, why couldn't it be HoJo's and not McDonalds.

So, what happened?

(Although I do have to say that the nastiest food I have ever been confronted with anywhere was at a HoJo's stop on the New York Thruway somewhere between Syracuse and Rochester. I went hungry that day.)

gogouci said...

Boy these take me back to cross country road trips as a child. Countless hours in the back of a station wagon rewarded with a cupful of HoJo's ice cream at each destination point

ken mac said...

Great comments! Great memories.

Klaus said...

A bygone aera! Big names fading - nowadays that happens on a daily basis....
Cheers, Klaus

Dusty Lens said...

HoJo's!!! Man, i remember them days...well, not really. Glad those days are behind me.

We had a HoJo's in Bloomington, MN. In our college days, we used to rent a room for parties. Got booted out for bringing in a keg of beer. Nevermind it was the third keg.

Ah, the sordid, half remembered memories.

To answer your question, the song is Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet.

Virginia said...

KM,
First i have to tell you I would love to see you in person because when I leave comments for you I swear I feel like I am talking to Bogey himself1
That said I love the collection of HJ photos. Oh the memories they brought back. Here's a site you might enjoy. I sure do.
lileks.com/
V

Lily Hydrangea said...

I remember talking about it with my husband when that HJ"s closed in Time Square, unfortunately I don't remember the date. My husband was so upset, not because he liked the food, it was just the end of an era.
I remember going to one on LI with my cousins when I was a kid and we all got ice cream. It was such a big deal. Apparently that's what a lots of families did because my husband went there once with all his cousins when he was little too.

Deb said...

I want me some clam strips!

Virginia said...

KM,
May I suggest the restaurant/motel site and my personal favorite, the Sears catalog. Email me after you have seen these. You will be up all night reading these my friend.

Kitty said...

wow, this looks like such a dated photo. How weird.
The top photo looks almost unreal

ken mac said...

that's photo shop for you! too much tweaking!

Ming the Merciless said...

I always associated Howard Johnson (never knew it was called HoJo) with airport hotels because that's where I see most of them.

The 70's green, red and yellow tiles really look 70's. :-)

When I first visited NYC in 1996, there were still strip clubs on Times Square. But by the time I moved here in 1998, they were all gone.

Mary Jo said...

I've heard about it, but never saw before. So colorful! Amazing shots!

Hilda said...

Of course, Howard Johnson's means nothing to me, but I love that funky floor! Lots of similar floors like that here in Manila, but not well-maintained though.

• Eliane • said...

I've heard of it I think but I don't think I have ever seen one. I like those old bar/dinner stools and the neon letters. A friend of mine just bought the letters W and C of a theater neon on eBay. She hung them in her bathroom. This style is very trendy now.

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