BANGOR, Maine — After a half-century of feeding local people and travelers, the Howard Johnson Restaurant and Lounge in Bangor — one of only two left in the nation — is putting away its aprons and spatulas.
While the adjoining Howard Johnson motel will stay open, the eatery’s last day of business will be Sept. 6, Restaurant Manager Julie Jewett confirmed on Wednesday afternoon. While there once were hundreds of Howard Johnson restaurants in the U.S., the Bangor location’s closure will leave only one standing — a recently reopened diner in Lake George, New York.
Jewett noted Wednesday that business at the restaurant, located at 336 Odlin Road, has been down in recent years, in part because several other hotels nearby were offering free continental breakfasts.
That, in turn, has led to reduced hours. Once open until late night, the eatery now closes at 2 p.m. daily, according to signs posted on the restaurant’s exterior glass doors.
Opened in 1966, the Howard Johnson Restaurant and Lounge in Bangor harkens back to a bygone era when patrons would drop by for such familiar favorites as fried clam strips, frankfurters and all-you-can-eat fried fish.
It also was a meeting place for members of the Bangor Noontime Kiwanis Club.
Word that the restaurant likely would close has been circulating in the community for more than a year.
Howard Johnson’s restaurants started in 1925 in Quincy, Massachusetts, with a soda fountain and an emphasis on quality foods. A decade later, there were 25 locations across Massachusetts.
In 1936, the first location beyond the borders of the Bay State opened in Milford, Connecticut. In the 1950s, the company expanded to offer motor lodges, as well — much like the one that opened in Bangor with the attached restaurant.
Commonly located off interstates, the restaurants with their signature orange roofs and 28 flavors of full butterfat ice cream were a favorite among families.
Bangor’s famous visitors included Stephen King and Elvis Presley’s daughter, who came with her two children, according to a previously published report.