The 15 Biggest Failed Restaurant Chains

Howard Johnson’s

Howard Johnson’s is synonymous with the 1950s and ’60s dining. It was launched by Howard Johnson himself in the 1920s as a soda fountain and lunch counter, and by 1954 there were 400 outposts in 32 states.

One of the first major restaurant chains, it went public in 1961 with 605 restaurants and 88 motor lodges, both of which were major fixtures dotting the new American highway system that experienced monumental growth during this time.

The company peaked in in the mid-1970s, but business fell off after that. The business model of serving pre-made high-quality food in traditional dining rooms lost popularity amid the boom in fast food chains like McDonald’s, and after many changes in ownership over the years, only two Howard Johnson’s restaurants remain, in Lake Placid, New York and Bangor, Maine.

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