“If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.”

George S. Patton, General U. S. Army

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

Mark Twain

"The ancestor of every action is thought."

Emerson

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought."

Buddha

"When you are not told what to do you begin to think what to do."

Roger Cohen, Op-Ed Columnist New York Times

"No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking."

Voltaire

"Never be afraid to sit awhile and think."

Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun

"You and I are not what we eat; we are what we think."

Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course

"Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?"

Winnie the Pooh

"Time to think matters ─ at least if we’re interested in getting the answers right."

Stephen L. Carter

"Thinking is always out of order, interrupts all ordinary activities and is interrupted by them."

Hannah Arendt, Life of the Mind

"Too often we…enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

John F. Kennedy

"The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds."

Will Durant

"Thinking is like living and dying. Each of us must do it for himself."

Josiah Royce

"Some people get lost in thought because it's such unfamiliar territory."

G. Behn

"The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking."

Albert Einstein

"Pursuing our thoughts in silent contemplation takes an investment in time that few can spare."

Stephen L. Carter

"A moment’s thinking is an hour in words."

Thomas Hood

"Sometimes I think and other times I am."

Paul, Variete: Cantiques spirituels 192

"To think is to differ."

Darrow

"To think is to live."

Cicero

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."

William Jones

"What we think, we become."

Buddha

"Our job is not to make up anybody’s mind, but to open minds and to make the agony of the decision-making so intense you can escape only by thinking."

Anonymous

"The person who thinks before he speaks is silent most of the time."

Anonymous

"Think ─ and you will be very lonely."

Anonymous

"Thought is action in rehearsal."

Anonymous

"We live in a world that leaves very little time to contemplate."

Anonymous

"Don’t worry too much about what people think because they seldom do."

Anonymous

"Invest a few moments in thinking. It will pay good interest."

Anonymous

"One cannot think crooked and walk straight."

Anonymous

"Think Differently + Do Things Differently = Better Results"

Anonymous

August 29, 2016

HoJo’s Last Stand

Tags: Business, Promotion, Branding,

“Howard Johnson’s, Host of the Highways!” That was my cringe-worthy phone greeting when I worked as a teenage hostess at the company’s Valley Forge restaurant on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. All is forgiven now that I heard HoJo’s will be closing its Bangor, Maine restaurant on September 7th, leaving only one standing in Lake George, NY. 

Howard Deering Johnson, the chain’s namesake and founder, was the brains behind the first modern restaurant franchise, the first turnpike restaurant in the U. S., and the pioneer of the convenience food concept of processing and portioning food at off-site kitchens and shipping it to restaurants for prepping and cooking.

By 1975, the company had more than1000 company-owned and franchised outlets in the United States and some 500 motor lodges in North America.

Not a bad legacy for a once struggling 27-year old who in 1925 was saddled with his late father’s business debts and a $500 loan he used to take over a “patent medicine store” with a soda fountain and newsstand in Quincy, Massachusetts.

The man was a survivor and a marketing genius, with one finger always in the air, testing the winds of change and consumer tastes.

His soda fountain originally sold three flavors of ice cream – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry – but he understood the American consumer’s birthright for “more and better” and began cranking out his own natural ice cream with double the butterfat in the store’s basement. The customer lines soon circled the block.

The ice cream menu would eventually include 28 different flavors.

Johnson expanded the business by selling ice cream at the beach and other traffic heavy areas around town, and converted his store into a restaurant adding hamburgers and hot dogs to the menu.

But the stock market crash of 1929 put the skids on his plan to open a second restaurant.

So that’s when he came up with the brilliant idea for franchising, basically selling the “Howard Johnson” name to another businessman for a fee, and having him agree to purchase all his food and supplies from the company.

Howard Johnson also saw opportunity in the Interstate Highway system. Americans loved to travel the open road and HoJo’s was going to feed them along the way. In the 1960’s, Howard Johnson restaurants could be found from coast-to-coast and by 1965, their sales exceeded the combined revenues of McDonald’s, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

(By the time I worked at the Valley Forge Turnpike restaurant, we absolutely dreaded the invasion of touring “bus groups.”  One cannot begin to describe the state of the restrooms after the masses departed. My boss asked me once -- just once -- to clean the trashed Ladies Room when I was working in the restaurant gift shop. I reminded him that my job description didn’t include janitorial services, especially since he was paying me 5 cents an hour below the minimum wage...)

But back to our more illustrious founder:  Howard Johnson instinctively knew how to differentiate his restaurants, and eventually his motor lodges -- from the iconic architecture by 20th century modernist Rufus Nims, who designed the orange roofs, cupolas and weather vanes that became part of the American landscape, to the restaurant’s Simple Simon and the Pieman logo created in the 1930’s by the artist John Alcott.

So how is it that we’re left with only one Howard Johnson’s restaurant some 90 years later?

The usual suspects: New competition. Numerous owners. A brand in desperate need of a refresh (and probably cleaner restrooms).


Anita Alvare (bio)/Alvare Associates/610-520-6140


Howard Deering Johnson   Howard Johnson’s   HoJo’s  Simple Simon and the Pieman   Rufus Nims   John Alcott.

Since establishing Alvaré in 1981, Anita has guided the agency through more than 30 years of steady growth and success. A marketing communications entrepreneur who has done it all, she remains deeply involved in strategic planning and creative direction, bringing extensive knowledge and insight to each client project.

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Comments (4)

08.30.2016
Kevin

A fascinating journey (with no rest stop) - loved every bit of it!
Interesting that the only HoJo’s left is in Lake George. From 1985-1989 we lived @10 miles from that HoJo’s.
Many, many fond memories - thank you for bringing them back to me.

08.30.2016
Steph

I think what did them in was the poor service in the restaurants. I recall going to the HoJo’s in Villanova after a visit to the orthodontist. Mom felt sorry for me so she was treating me to ice cream (which was indeed very good, by the way). We were the only people in the restaurant at about 3:30 pm and we were there over 45 minutes waiting for our dishes of ice cream. Finally Mom got up and we walked out. I really missed that ice cream. We never went back.

08.30.2016
Richard Robinson

Hard to believe there was a time during the first years of the Kennedy administration, in a community near New York City, when taking your date to Howard Johnson’s after a movie meant a romantic relationship was a real possibility while going to McDonald’s meant you never wanted to see each other again.

08.31.2016
mimi hollway

Anita,
What a wonderful trip down memory lane.  I love your style of writing and look forward to the next blog !!