Howard Johnson, came into the hospitality industry in the 1930’s, and opened his first motor lodge in 1954; however, he came into the industry from the side of a restaurateur with his ice cream stands and restaurants/coffee shops.
At the peak of Howard Johnson’s empire in 1969, he had approximately 500 motels and 1,000 restaurants, as Howard Johnson’s was seen as mid-range (price-wise) motel in terms of place-product-packaging (Jakle, 1996). Howard Johnson was also instrumental in use of architecture (a-frame gate-lodge with cupola, orange roof, etc) of the building and colors as part of the marketing of the product. Horne’s Restaurants (see http://www.highwayhost.org/Hornes/Introduction/hornes1.htm for pictures due to copyright laws), and International House of Pancakes (IHOP) used the same concept in developing their respective restaurants.
It wasn’t until the mid 1970s until some of the budget chains like Econo-Lodge, Super 8 and Motel 6 became well established (due to the oil embargo and other economic challenges), taking a larger share of the lodging industry from mid-range chains such as Howard Johnson’s and Holiday Inn (to a lesser degree). Also, during this time period, was a change in the marketplace, as the budget conscious traveler was no longer looking for a motel with extra amenities such as coffee shops; as budget motels often offer a free continental breakfast.
Mid-range motels such has Howard Johnson’s and Holiday Inn, also got the squeeze from the other end of the lodging spectrum, in the area of hotels with suites and extended stay facilities (i.e. Homewood Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, etc.), aimed at the longer staying business traveler, offering more amenities geared toward families and business travelers.
As a result of the changes in the lodging industry, and “amenity creep” from the budget motels, new mid-range chains such as Day’s Inn and La Quinta Inns & Suites have come to fill in the void left by Howard Johnson’s, as well as encompassing the suite market. Howard Johnson’s just did not keep up with the changes of the American traveler.
A great website, with pictures of many Howard Johnson's Restaurants and Motor Lodges: http://www.highwayhost.org/Orangeroof/index.htm