A Howard Johnson inn became a familiar sight on many roadsides across the United States in the latter half of the 20th century. Although Johnson began with a chain of restaurants, the name also became synonymous with the affordable motels the company managed.
Howard Johnson – The Name that Became Part of Popular Culture
Howard Johnson’s is an instantly recognizable name when it comes to restaurants and motels. Although few of them are still around today, they invaded 20th century popular culture and were called “Hojos.”
It all began with Johnson opening a corner drugstore in Massachusetts. Later on, he diversified into ice cream and hotdog stands. He borrowed enough money to eventually open his own restaurant serving all-American fare.
After the crash of the stock market in 1929, Johnson was still able to open more branches of his restaurant. In a little over a decade, Johnson had set up more than a hundred restaurants that employed over 10,000 people. But then the Second World War caused most of the Howard Johnson restaurants to close down.
It was only after the war that Johnson began rebuilding his restaurants and eventually thought of opening motor lodges. The Howard Johnson chain, found throughout America, became familiar for its orange roof, a design that was adopted for all its branches.
But his lodges were no longer confined to the United States alone but were also found in the Bahamas. Although some of the Howard Johnson restaurants were franchises, many of them were maintained by the company.
After the death of Howard Johnson in 1972, his son took over and many of the restaurants began closing down. The lodging chain was eventually sold off and is now managed by a different company.
There are only four remaining Howard Johnson restaurants in the United States today, but the name still remains familiar to most Americans looking for a place to eat when traveling on the road.
This business leader has proven that even in the face of crisis, it is possible to build a business from the ground up.
The Howard Johnson Quick Bio
Full Name: Howard Johnson
Birthdate: February 2, 1897
Company: Howard Johnson’s
Industry: Restaurants and Lodging
Key success traits: found a way around adversity, had a strong entrepreneurial spirit
The ice cream recipe that started it all for Howard Johnson was bought for a mere three hundred dollars. It was a double-butterfat, hand-dipped recipe that gained a huge following.