This Once-Largest Restaurant Chain in America Just Shuttered Its Last Location

It all started when Howard Deering Johnson, who grew up in the town of Quincy, Mass., purchased a drugstore and began peddling homemade ice cream.

His dessert became so popular, he then opened an ice cream stand on Wollaston Beach, where, legend has it, he sold as many as 14,000 cones in a single day.

Fast forward to 2022, and what was the largest restaurant chain in the United States throughout the 1960s and 1970s—with more than 1,000 locations—is now closing the doors to its last remaining location. 

the 70-year-old establishment in New York State's tourist-packed village of Lake George did not open its doors during Memorial Day weekend and seems to have been shuttered since March.

The beloved restaurant chain began to take a downturn in the late 1970s. The company was first sold to Imperial Group, one of Britain's largest companies at the time, for $630 million in 1979. 

Six years later, Imperial sold Howard Johnson's to "rival restaurant empire" Marriott for $314 million. After that, Howard Johnson's locations began to disappear, and by the turn of the century.

The lease for the Lake George location is now listed for a mere $10 and is described as a "rare business opportunity to lease a prime piece of real estate in the heart of Lake George."

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