Before falling on hard times, Howard Johnson took restaurant franchises to a new level. The orange-roofed eateries once numbered more than 800, with the New England-based restaurant chain predating all those Howard Johnson hotels.
Howard Deering Johnson started the business in 1925, when he inherited a soda fountain outside of Boston. that evolved into a chain of restaurants featuring comfort food and 28 flavors of ice cream. The orange roof with its blue spire represented a dependable place for travelers to park the family car, grab a meal and spend the night.
The one closing in Bangor, Maine, the Howard Johnson Restaurant and Lounge, in its heyday, was popular with travelers and locals alike, including horror and science fiction author Stephen King, who lives in Bangor. He said he used to eat there often and enjoyed the patty melts and milkshakes.
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