Fifty years ago, Howard Johnson’s was the orange-roofed watering hole for countless American road-trippers. Now, as Eater reports, the restaurant chain is nearly extinct. The Lake Placid, New York HoJo’s closed this week, leaving only two locations: Bangor, Maine and Lake George, New York. (The Lake George restaurant has actually shut down once before but reopened this year).
A.V. Club readers might know Howard Johnson’s best from its prominent appearance in “Far Away Places,” the fifth-season episode of Mad Men in which Megan expresses her disdain for orange sherbet, so Don does the only reasonable thing by driving away without her. In the fiction of the show, those scenes took place at the now-defunct Plattsburgh, New York location; the episode was actually shot at a Regency Inn & Suites in the L.A. suburbs that used to be a HoJo’s.
It might seem that operating one of the last vestiges of an American icon would be a livelihood of pleasantness and nostalgia, but Lake Placid franchise owner Mike Butler told New York’s WPIX that it actually kind of sucked: “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.” Plus, the orange sherbet tasted like perfume.