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“A piece of history”
Review of Howard Johnson Restaurant - CLOSED

Howard Johnson Restaurant
Price range: $10 - $15
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups
Dining options: Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Buffet, Highchairs Available, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff
Boston, MA
Level Contributor
225 reviews
108 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 350 helpful votes
“A piece of history”
Reviewed March 25, 2013

Sure, you aren't going to get gourmet food here. But then again, times were much different in the 1950s ... things were simple and that is the way they stay at this Howard Johnson's. This is one of the only two Howard Johnson restaurants left in the United States. This is pretty amazing considering there were orange roofed Howard Johnsons at almost every rest area or exit on the Northeast. The orange roofs today are pretty much gone ... as are the 1950s architecture. In fact, anyone who recently watched the episode of Mad Men where Don Draper brings his fiance to a Hojo restaurant will notice that it was mostly CGI graphics that made up the recreation of the Howard Johnson's in the episode.

And it looked so amazing and fun, I knew I had to take a road trip to try the original before it too becomes an extinct part of nostalgia. The first thing that hits you about this is that it doesn't look like a Howard Johnson's as far as one would expect from a google search. There is no bright orange peaked roof, sky blue interior or atomic 50's style architecture with giant glass windows. This looks like a beat up, little roadside restaurant in any mill town.

However, the menu has kept pretty much the same throughout the years and you can find the 'classics' such as the clam roll, burgers and fries, etc. Nobody is going to call this food amazing ... it is simple, hearty American comfort food. There are no frills but it's done right. Tasty and deep fried and grilled perfect. All the reasons why American waistlines have grown over the years as we became complaicent with the TV dinner and fried or grilled foods.

However, here it seems alright to eat this stuff because it is simply ... American. Classic.

So for those who came here and think that the service is terrible or that the food isn't up to the standards of other hash houses and burger joints ... you might be right. But hopefully people will still keep going here because this is one of the last in a long line of dinosaur roadside restaurants from the 1950s that hasn't changed much. This is no Johnny Rockets. This is the real deal, blast from the past. If I am ever in the area, I will go back for sure if nothing else as a way to experience a simpler time without having to go through 'theme park cheese' recreations to do it.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank LovinHotelLife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

111 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    21
    37
    22
    14
    17
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Toronto
Level Contributor
22 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Quintessential HoJo”
Reviewed March 16, 2013

Authentic Howard Johnson's restaurant from the 50's? or 60's? Super inexpensive and really good food. A lot of fun to din there.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Almontonians
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gouverneur, New York
Level Contributor
25 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Mixed Review for HoJos”
Reviewed February 24, 2013

We were in Lake Placid for a get-away weekend with our two teenage children. We went to Howard Johnson's for a quick bite to eat for lunch because we had had a good experience there several years ago and assumed we would have another good experience. We left this time with very mixed feelings. When we entered there were very few customers in the restaurant and our waitress came to our table immediately. She started out friendly, but became flustered and rude with us as our experience there went on. Firstly, we asked if we could substitute onion rings for the "homemade chips (yuck)" served with the sandwiches and were briskly told "NO" - we offered to pay the difference and were again told "NO" - my husband suggested we simply buy some onion rings, but she had been so rude that we did not purchase anything extra. We were very polite - and at one point asked for a second milkshake for our children. The waitress was visibly bothered by this request, she sighed loudly and rolled her eyes - animated enough that our 16 year old son apologized for his request and asked us if he had done something wrong when she left the table. Our food was prepared quickly and we had no complaints about the meal. While we were finishing up, a table of 8-10 people came in and we overheard them ordering - one patron ordered a steak. The waitress returned to the table and told them that the steak would take 45 minutes to be prepared because it was still frozen. The patron said he would order something else and the waitress went running back to the kitchen practically yelling "don't cook the steak! don't cook the steak!" to which the "chef" replied "it's already down!! *&%$#" Not the most professional service we've received or witnessed. Maybe they are not used to being "busy" - or perhaps the waitresses were having a bad day? Not sure, but despite the fact that he food was good, this will probably not be our first choice next time we are in the area.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank jweb8969
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saranac Lake, New York
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Food was cold!”
Reviewed February 10, 2013

With a family of 6, we always liked going to HoJo's, as prices were really reasonable. This last time, we walked in and there was no buffet. The waitress said it was because it has been slow during the week, so they were only going to have it on the weekends. We should have turned around and left, when we first thought about it, but since we were all ready there, we decided to eat there. All but 2 plates came out and were barely warm, mashed potatoes on the side were cold. We wanted salads, but were not going to pay full price for one on their menu. Asked for rolls, one waitress said they didn't have any, next thing another waitress brought some COLD ones out, with frozen butter. We asked for to go containers, brought our food home to our dogs, and said we should have just given the 92.00 that we spent to someone on the street because that's what we wasted. We had had only 1 problem there in the last 3 years we have been going, but this was ridiculous. I messaged Michael Butler on facebook, expressing my disatisfaction with the restaurant lately and still have not had a reply. I talked to someone that is an employee with the company, and told them what happened, they said good luck trying to talk to anyone. Also, menu states the buffet is included in meals, so we paid for the buffet, and couldn't even enjoy it.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank slny12983
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ridgeland, Mississippi
Level Contributor
66 reviews
59 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Step back into the 1950's”
Reviewed February 7, 2013

I know this isn't the normal review for me, but we couldn't resist stopping in for coffee, hot chocolate and a bite after a morning of snowmobiling. For those of you too young to remember Howard Johnson Motor Inns, they were the original chain and their restaurants were known for great burgers, hot dogs, "Welsh Rarebits" (a cheese dish) and 21 flavors of ice cream. There are only two lift in America and one of those is in Lake Placid. All of our food was great for diner food...which is what we expected. Burgers, dogs, onion rings, fries, hot chocolate, coffee, etc.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Shaver's Choice
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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