From Ho Jo to Hooters to Rubble
A Journey into Paramus
First went the iconic orange roof. Now the rest of the place is gone.
The building which at one time housed the Howard Johnson restaurant on Route 17 South is no more. It and the accompanying motel (once a Ho Jo as well) have been leveled. The site now awaits construction crews to create a new business to fit these times.
Most recently the restaurant was home to a Hooters until health violations and franchise issues doomed that use, while the motel had been a La Quinta Inn.
But for decades before this address at 377 had been a popular destination. It stood for solid road food in an era before McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks and Chipotle.
Back then, “HoJo” could be found on almost every highway and byway and felt as ubiquitous as McDonald’s or Starbucks are today. At its height in the 1970s, Howard Johnson’s had more than 1,000 restaurants and was the biggest food chain in America. Only the army fed more people. Now, only one is left.
The large menu included 28 ice-cream flavors, tender sweet Ipswich fried clams and butter-grilled “frankforts”.
Howard Johnson endured for a long time, but by the 1970's its reputation had slipped.
The last Howard Johnson restaurants in Maine, Lake Placid and Lake George held on for a long time but closed a couple of years back.
Locally, there were a number of Howard Johnson’s including one on Route 4 near the GW Bridge, and one in Ramsey. The Ramsey building, most recently a Chinese restaurant was “reconfigured” in the last year and today is a 24 hour urgent care center. Now the Paramus orange roof building is gone too.
But the taste of franks, clams, and ice cream (peppermint is favored in this house), well those remain on the tip of the tongue – building or not.
Photo credits below: Miles Ma, Patch and Fritz Behnke Historical Museum