Many of us remember that beacon during our travels – the orange roof and weather vane pointing to eating treasures – perhaps some fried clam strips, maybe a hot dog, certainly a choice amongst 28 flavors of ice cream. They also had canned goods, such as baked beans and Boston brown bread and even ice cream in our local market’s frozen food aisle. Howard Johnson’s restaurants once ruled the road with over 1,000 restaurants! They were the dining experience for the entire family, and then they slowly disappeared from the dining landscape, to be supplanted by a very busy dining scene at every turn. Oh, where did you go, HoJo; we miss you so.
Perhaps, we shall see a resurgence. Currently there is one in Bangor, ME and another recently reopened at Lake George, NY. Are they on an upswing, ready to challenge the Friendly’s, the 99, and Golden Corral, and a host of others? Our warm memories take us back to a time when everything was simpler – gas was cheap, our communities safe, we worked hard and rewarded our efforts with a stop at a near-by Howard Johnson’s. Certainly, the traveler could depend upon their carload of children to take up the call, when that orange roof crested above the black top – “HoJo’s, HoJo’s” our passengers shouted with glee. We were home! As the New York Times pointed out in an article on Saturday, May 23, 2015, we were about to enjoy the “…symbol of roadside Americana”. Then the Brand went dark.
It was not an easy demise, but it was a sign of many different owners, poor management, changing tastes and hearty competition. What a shame! However, we have seen that nostalgia can reenter the marketplace, and a brand can be burnished anew, particularly with the “boomers”. Beyond the memories, HoJo’s also brings a guest experience which is not swamped with surprises. As the food and beverage rights are owned by Wyndham Worldwide, we would expect the standards to be top shelf. It is what the guest deserves, and it will differentiate the brand on the dining landscape as it reemerges, bursts through the memory haze and, hopefully, casts a new glow. Go, HoJo’s!
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog, focusing on anything and everything about customer experience. LRA Worldwide is the leading global provider of Customer Experience Measurement services for multinational companies with complex customer interactions. For over 30 years, LRA’s innovative brand standards audits, quality assurance inspections, mystery shopping programs, research, and consulting services have helped ensure our clients deliver consistent, memorable, and differentiated experiences to their customers. Many of the world's preeminent global hospitality brands, as well as companies in the gaming, dining, healthcare, sports and entertainment, real estate, retail and travel industries choose LRA to help them measure and improve the customer experience. For more information, visit www.LRAWorldwide.com.
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