Monday, April 09, 2007
HoJo Go Go
Only 3 Howard Johnson’s restaurants still in business
WATERBURY, Conn. — And then there were three. Connecticut’s last Howard Johnson’s officially changed its name, leaving just three of the iconic orange-roofed restaurants in the nation.
The Brass House Restaurant has a new sign and the 20 employees have new black and burgundy uniforms, but the roof is still orange and the menu items are still mainly the same.
“We’re still going to have the staple, core items,” said Kristina Bakes, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Nicholas. “We will still have the all-you-can-eat clam and fish fry on Wednesdays and Fridays, and daily breakfast, lunch and dinner specials.”
Earlier this year, the Bakes were ordered to stop using the brand name, leaving Bangor, Maine, and Lake Placid and Lake George, N.Y., as the only towns that still have Howard Johnson’s restaurants.
Howard Johnson motor lodges still exist, but they’re not affiliated with the restaurants.
The La Mancha Group of New York owns the Howard Johnson’s brand for restaurants and food products.
The Bakes, who bought the Waterbury Howard Johnson’s in 1999, said they decided to give up the franchise because they weren’t getting enough corporate support. La Mancha bought the restaurant and food products brand from Wyndham Worldwide in 2004. Howard Johnson’s was founded in 1925 and grew to include more than 1,000 restaurants by the late 1970s. But over time, the chain suffered from aging facilities, a stale menu, lack of marketing or new ideas, and competition from other chains.