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Howard Johnson restaurant to be revived in Lake George

A vintage Howard Johnson restaurant poster.
A vintage Howard Johnson restaurant poster.

The number of operating Howard Johnson restaurants is about to increase by 50%. The Howard Johnson's in Lake George closed two years ago, leaving venues in Lake Placid and Maine as all that was left of what once was the largest chain in the United States, numbering more than 1,000 at its high point. The familiar orange roofs and 28-flavor ice cream menu were hallmarks of the chain founded in Quincy, MA, in 1925 by Howard Deering Johnson.

The chain branched out into motels in 1954 when it opened its first, in Savannah, GA. After 1986 the restaurants and motels were franchised separately. Even though, with the few exceptions noted above, the restaurants virtually disappeared, today there are about 500 HoJo hotels operating in 14 countries.

Today, Times Union columnist Marv Cermak reported that the former HoJo restaurant on Canada Street (Route 9) in the village will reopen on Friday after getting no buyers since its closing.

"Joe DeSantis of building owner DeSantis Enterprises confirmed the report," Cermak wrote, "and said ... since no one bought the landmark property, it was decided to lease the building to John Larock to reopen as Howard Johnson’s."

DeSantis is quoted as saying Larock plans to include such once-popular HoJo items as a Friday fish fry, fried clams and the signature 28 ice cream flavors on its menu.

At one time, Joe De Santis's father, Carl, owned six Howard Johnson franchises in the Northeast. More recently he operated the restaurant Carl R's in Glens Falls.

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