Thursday, May 10, 2012

Florida History: Howard Johnson's orange roof comes to Fort Lauderdale -1950

Shuttered HOJOs on A1A
By Jane Feehan

Orange roofs of Howard Johnson restaurants were as much a part of the American tableau of the 1950s and 60s as were wide skirts, rock n’ roll and Russophobia.

Howard Deering Johnson (1897-1972) started out in Massachusetts in 1925 with a soda fountain. Competition was tough but he bumped up sales with his own concoction of high-fat vanilla and chocolate ice cream that quickly became popular; business boomed. Within a few years he opened additional stores, pioneering the franchise concept.

By the time Johnson made it to Fort Lauderdale in 1950, he owned 252 restaurants throughout the nation, many on turnpikes. He celebrated his 53rd birthday in Fort Lauderdale Feb. 2, opening his 253rd restaurant at 317 North Federal Highway. On hand for the occasion was Mayor F.R. Humphries, other city officials, and R.H. Gore, president of the North American Company, builder of the then-new structure which he leased to Howard Johnson of Florida, Inc.

By the 1960s and 1970s, Howard Johnson’s was the largest restaurant chain in the U.S., with more than 1,000 units. He and his son, Howard B. Johnson, also opened motels beginning in 1959. Today, Wyndham Worldwide owns Howard Johnson motels and the rights to the name. Only a handful of the restaurants operate in the U.S.

How many HoJo restaurants and motels can you remember in Fort Lauderdale? Was it the ice cream or clam strips that brought you back? Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

(Use search box at upper right to find more on R.H. Gore and more Fort Lauderdale history.)
   1. Fort Lauderdale Daily News, Feb. 3, 1950

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Tags: Howard Johnson restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale history, Howard Deering Johnson, Fort Lauderdale restaurant history


Scott Foster said...

I always loved Howard Johnson's hot dogs grilled in butter and the perfect bun it was served in. Their coffee ice cream was still the best I ever had.

It was a sad day when HoJo's stopped preparing fresh food and went with the times and everything became frozen warm ups. I think that was the beginning of their demise.

Stephanie said...

Thank you for including a link to my book here. I enjoy your blog, you really bring back some old memories.

Thank you!