For almost a century, Howard Johnson’s customers have been able to enjoy a hearty dinner at one of the company’s restaurants. The tradition, however, has come to an end after the restaurant chain that was the first franchise restaurant organization in the United States officially shut its final location in Lake George, New York, putting a custom millions of people had enjoyed into the history books.

The Lake George Howard Johnson’s location was set to reopen for the Memorial Day Weekend, but unfortunately it remained shut. Locals learned that it would not be reopening at all, as the summer months in Lake George don’t attract enough tourists to sustain the restaurant.

“Lake George is officially dead,” Alyssa Kelly, who has been documenting the restaurant’s struggle for years through HoJoLand fan group, posted on Facebook. “Plastic tables and chairs removed. All memorabilia removed (that is not original, that stays with the building). Cobwebs on the door.”

By 2010, only three Howard Johnson locations remained operational. One was in Lake George but wasn’t associated with the franchise. The other two were in Lake Placid, New York and Bangor, Maine. However, the location in Lake Placid closed permanently In 2015 while 2016 saw the closure of the Bangor location.

The Lake George Howard Johnson’s location was one of the most popular when it opened in 1953, as it was located in across from the Adirondack Mountains. Tourists would often eat there multiple times a day while on road trips.

The restaurant turned into the Lake George Family Restaurant in 2015 but maintained the iconic Howard Johnson’s branding and name. However, after Johnathan LaRock – the establishment’s operator – was charged with harassment toward 15 female employees (some as young as fourteen), the restaurant found itself unable to stay successful.

Customers are unhappy that Howard Johnson’s has gone extinct, despite recent difficulties.

“This is a sad loss. They served so many people at an affordable price. Guess as an affluent society, we’re no longer concerned about the average American family!” wrote one person.

Another person said “Had an amazing pot roast there at the end of this past January! Great service too!”

Dave Hood said he was sad that he and his wife would never be able to enjoy a Howard Johnson’s meal together again.

“My wife and I stayed in Lake George a week ago and were hoping to eat there. We both used to work for Ron Butler at the Lake Placid HoJo’s, and I used to manage for the NY State division of the corporate restaurants in the 70s,” he said.

What do you think about Howard Johnson’s restaurant chain going out of business in the United States?