(June 14, 2009) The "grand lady" of all HoJo's, the former Times Square (46th Street) location, closed in 2005. Soon, apparel retailer American Eagle, will open it's flagship store in the former location. And while cosrtuction crews have unearthed lots of old brick from the former 100 year old-plus building that housed HoJo's, HoJoLand.com has unearther a 1959 letter from the Howard Johnson Company to the Rubenstein family, congratulating them on the recent opening of their HoJo's unit at 46th Street. Click on the photo to the right to see a larger version.
Former HJ Ice Cream Shop Caparra, Puerto Rico
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If You Miss HoJo's Macaroni & Cheese, Try Mama Mae's....
It Tastes (and looks) Just Like HoJo's
By Walter Mann
First, no, this is NOT a paid advertisement. Recently, I had a "food experience" that I felt necessary to share with other HoJo-lovers. A few weeks ago, while at the grocery store lately, Shop-Rite to be specific, I saw an orange container in the frozen food section that looked similar to my old favorite, HoJo's. The box was the same size, shape and color, so I figured, what the heck, I'll give it a try. A week or so later, I'm looking for something to east for a quick lunch, and remembered about the macaroni and cheese I purchased, so I opened it up, and the actual product in the inside of this brand I had never hear of, looked just like HoJo's macaroni and cheese looked frozen. So, I popped it in the microwave, and a few minutes later, when I took my first fork full, I was amazed! It was like someone replicated the famous HoJo recipe! The taste, the color, it was just like HoJo's. It brought me back to the days not that many years ago when I could pick up a few boxes of frozen HoJo Mac 'n' Cheese at the local store, and even though there were no longer any HoJo restaurants nearby, I could still enjoy their siganture macaroni and cheese. Ahh, those were the days, days we now wonder if they will ever come back. But, at least for now, I have Mama Mae's...just as good, and tastes the same. I gotta run....on the way for more Mama Mae's. (Note, Mama Mae's website, MamaMaes.com, indicates their products are available at A&P, Associated, Bravo, C-Town, Met, Pathmark, Pioneer, SuperFresh, Waldbaum's, Westside Market, Shop Rite, Costco and Duane Reade.)
When we sampled Mama Mae's, we at HoJoLand.com were shocked at how similar the taste was to HoJo's!
If You've Never Heard of a "HoJo-archaelogist," Now You Have!
By Walter Mann
We recently received an email from a woman in Glenns Falls, Pennsylvania stating that when she was expanding her garden in her back yard, she kept digging up pieces of ceramic plates, which, upon closer examination, proved to be old plates from the Howard Johnson Restaurant empire. Little is known how these hundreds of pieces of old plates ended up in her back yard, other than the woman's house was built seven years ago on property that used to be forest. Yet, every time
she plants a new garden, she continues to find shards of plates from Howard Johnson's Ice Cream and Restaurants. The woman jokingly stated that someday in some new garden they design, they will find the mother load!! Her neighbors have never seen such a thing in their yards.
The woman, whose name is Denise, said, "it seems like a HOJO was Pompeii'd here!" We will keep you updated on any developments in this un-earthing of HoJo relics.
Above: Some of the pieces of HoJo plates unearthed in a garden is rural Glenns Falls, PA.
HOJO ANAHEIM: HOJO HOTEL GETS IT RIGHT
June 19, 2018
By Walter Mann
Though Wyndham has offered various "retro" options for its lodging franchisees, and Ocala, Florida, has done a nice job, HoJo Anaheim (www.HoJoAnaheim.com) has really debuted the best example of what a retro-rebuild should look like. As you will see in the video to the right by Charles Phoenix, the newly remodeled HoJoAnaheim (located across the street from Disneyland) features original HoJo color schemes, orange roofs, original HoJo logos on cups and other marketing materials, and employees wearing shirts with classic HoJo logos. The decor is beautifully retro, with retro clocks, furniture, lobby elements, and more. HoJoAnaheim also has its own Family Water Playground on premises.
If Wyndham could only convince more franchisees to go this route, and add the REAL retro look, it could be the beginning of an actual rebirth of the HoJo brand we remember...and long for.
Former HoJo Ice Cream Shop, Caparra, Puerto Rico
HOJO MILFORD, CT: A LOOK BACK AT THE GRAND OLD LADY AND SECOND CT HOJO
July 16, 2018
By Walter Mann
The first HoJo Restaurant in Connecticut was located in Fairfield. It was opened in 1935 by Irving Carter, in his late 20's, who would open another HoJo unit in Milford, CT, in a converted Dutchland Farms, in less than a year. Mirroring the growing trend of Dutchland-to-HoJo conversions, HoJo's bought the remaining Dutchland units in the early 1930's.
Irving Carter would eventually hand over his restaurants to his son, George, who, under the Toll Gate Foods banner, would operate a number of HoJo units in addition to Fairfield and Milford, including HoJo's in New Haven, Waterbury, Branford, Mystic, as well as Ground Rounds in New Haven and Branford. George Carter led the charge to form Franchise Associates, Inc., (FAI), a franchisee-run company. FAI won the rights, in an out of court settlement, to use the name HoJo's to continue to operate HJ Restaurants, Ice Cream Shops and the retail HJ food operations. Though FAI tried to succeed, it eventually failed and the rights to the HJ food and beverage operations reverted to what is now Wyndham Worldwide.
In comparing the pictures to the left, you can see the same roof line and overall size of the building.
There was a co-located HoJo Motor Lodge that was added years later, and expanded to quite a large footprint. In 2016, most, but not all of the motor lodge was demolished and condominiums were built.
Top: 1040-1052 Boston Post Road, Milford (1930's) as a Dutchland Farms Restaurant. Irving Carter, the owner of this Dutchland Farms, would switch this unit to a HoJo's by 1936. It would remain a HoJo until 2000.
Bottom: 1040-1052 Boston Post Road, Milford (2018). This Friendly's unit closed in 2018, as part of the continuing downfall of the chain.
November 28, 2018
By Walter Mann
The Times Square HoJo's at 46th and Broadway was originally a Child's, until it was replaced by HoJo's in 1959. The photo to the right, courtesy of New York City historical photos, was taken during the 1940's. Child's Restaurants was one of the first national dining chains in the United States and Canada, having peaked in the 1920s and 1930s with about 125 locations in dozens of markets, serving over 50,000,000 meals a year, with over $37 million in assets at the time. Childs was a pioneer in a number of areas, including design, service, sanitation, and labor relations. It was a contemporary of food service companies such as
HOJO TIMES SQUARE: WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE BEFORE HOJO'S
Horn & Hardart, and a predecessor of companies such as McDonald's. In 1959, this 46th Street location was converted to a Howard Johnson's, and would remain so for 46 years, until closing on July 8, 2005. It was later demolished and is now a location of a retail clothing chain.
March 30, 2020
By Walter Mann
This unusual looking HJ Lodge began construction in 1970. While the lodging portion was owned by a different entity, the restaurant was owned by Toll Gate Foods, the Carter family-owned hospitality business that owned a bunch of HJ eateries in Connecticut, including the Fairfield, CT unit, which was opened in 1936. Toll Gate also owned HJ units in Connecticut in Milford, Branford, Mystic, West Hartford and other cities. Toll Gate was started by Irving Carter, who opened the first, franchise HJ franchise restaurant outside of the home state of Massachusetts. Carter's son, George, an attorney, succeeded his father Irving in running the company through its demise in the late 1990's. George Carter was the former head of Franchise Associates, Inc. (FAI), who owned the license to franchise HJ restaurants from 1986 until its shut down in 2007 .
The motor lodge, according to HighwayHost.org, was and eight-story, 154 room complex operated by Stan Becker. At the time, Becker also operated Lodges in Stratford, Hartford and at Kennedy Airport in New York. The HJ lodge eventually changed brands to a Suisse Chalet, Fairfield Inn, and is now a La Quinta.
SPOTLIGHT ON LONG WHARF,
NEW HAVEN CT HOJO'S
Top: The Howard Johnson's Restaurant (with hotel) when it first opened at 402 Sargent Drive, New Haven. Below: the building today as The Greek Olive/Tony's Pizza, opened in 2004.