The Nation’s Last Howard Johnson’s Is Now Closed

The end of a dining era

Howard Johnson Roadside Restaurant
Howard Johnson Roadside Restaurant, 1940s.
Charles Phelps Cushing/Classicstock/Getty Images

If you’re of a certain age, you might have fond memories of childhood road trips and the restaurants you stopped at along the way. It’s entirely possible that some of the meals you ate on those road trips came at a roadside Howard Johnson’s — which were a ubiquitous presence for decades around the country.

In 2022, that’s no longer the case. While some of the buildings that housed Howard Johnson’s restaurants still stand, many have new occupants now. And while one remained open for business for several years in Lake George, New York, that final location has also shut down, marking the official end of an era.

An article at The Washington Post has more details on the restaurant’s closure; the building has been vacant for earlier this year, and is now for sale. Few details are given about the circumstances that led to its closure, though one assumes the pandemic’s adverse effects on many a restaurant played some part in it.

It probably didn’t help the place’s popularity that the owner of the Lake George location was arrested and sentenced in 2018 for what a News10 report described as “various sex crimes” — which began with his arrest for sexual harassment, and got significantly worse from there.

The name of Howard Johnson continues on via hotels — as the Washington Post article notes, the hotel and restaurant sides of the business split in the 1980s. As for what might occupy the Lake George location next, that remains to be seen.


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