Howard Johnson's Liquors, USA 1950s
This is a wonderful drinks menu from Howard Johnson's, once the biggest restaurant chain in the United States. The design and graphics are strikingly simple and elegant – a perfect example of the ingenuity of vintage menu artists.
Ho Jos, as it was called by customers, began life as a pharmacy and soda fountain in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1925. Businessman Howard Johnson, who had borrowed $2,000 to open the property, realized customers were queuing up for his ice-cream and milk shakes - rather than the items on sale in the drugstore – and he soon had his first sit-down restaurant. By the time America entered the Second World War, there were more than 200 franchised or company-owned Ho Jos.
The company reached its peak in the 1970s with over 1000 restaurants but faced challenges as fast food outlets like McDonalds burgeoned. Mad Men featured a Plattsburg, NY Howard Johnson’s in the 2012 episode “Far Away Places” - Don asks Megan: "Would you say it's a delightful destination?" She replies, "It's not a destination, it's on the way to someplace.". In 1979 Marriott bought the Howard Johnson's company and promptly shut down all the company-owned restaurants and "had them either demolished or converted into other restaurant chains." Though the Howard Johnson hotel chain flourishes – now owned by the Wyndham Hotel Group - the last Howard Jonson’s Restaurant finally closed down in January 2017 in Lake George NY.
The interior of this wonderful 1950s menu is equally stylish and interesting. While generations of American children remember being taken out to eat at Ho Jos, some of heir parents appreciated the large selection of cocktails on offer. In this menu, there were also four types of champagne, with the most expensive bottle costing only six dollars.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu where available.
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