LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP/PIX11) — One of the three remaining Howard Johnson’s restaurants still in business has been sold and will close Tuesday after a nearly 60-year run in a New York village.
Mike Butler, owner of the HoJo’s in Lake Placid, says his family-run eatery was purchased by local restaurant owners who plan to move their business to the property. The Butlers’ restaurant is located at 2099 Saranac Ave.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” Butler told PIX11. “Ever since last weekend, we’ve been really busy. Lots of people have been rushing in — really good customers that have moved away, people who used to work here. It’s like a little reunion. One guy drove nine hours, 18 hours round-trip, from Maine to get fried clams and meet our family.”
Butler’s father, Ron, opened the restaurant with the chain’s signature orange roof 58 years ago.
“I was here when I was five years old, helping butter pans for rolls,” Mike Butler told PIX11. “My brother Patrick and I have worked here our entire adult lives. I’ve been close to tears several times these past couple of days, but it’s great to see all these people.”
Despite his long history in the restaurant business, Butler is glad to move on. “It’s not a fun business anymore … I loved it, I have a lot of friends in the business and they’re happy I’m getting out. I’m hoping my hair grows back, and darker too.”
There were once hundreds of Howard Johnson’s restaurants in the U.S.
Two are still operating. One is attached to a hotel in Bangor, Maine, and the other is in Lake George, a tourist destination 60 miles south of Lake Placid. The Lake George HoJo’s reopened in January after being closed for three years.