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Howard Johnson's Motel, 200 Zimalcrest Drive: 1980s(?)   4 comments

Posted at 1:39 pm in closing

It always impresses me how easy it is to take a well known, well regarded brand and run it into the ground. There's no reason carved in stone as to why Sears shouldn't be the country's number one retailer. They had universal market penetration, a trusted image and core products that were consumer touchstones for quality: Craftsman, Kenmore & Diehard. Yet with all that going for them, they still fell asleep at the wheel and let Wal-Mart and even Target eat their lunch.

Something similar happened to Howard Johnson. At one time they were so ubiquitous and well known that Mel Brooks could joke about it in Blazing Saddles and be confident that everyone would get it. The chain is still around, but it's certainly not what it was. The location on Bush river continues in business as a hotel (the one in Cayce with the Cinderella carraige is boarded up). I think it's one of those generic sounding chains now with, I'm guessing, a low franchise fee. It's also got one of Columbia's several Indian restaurants. The time I went there, the food was fine, but the service was a bit slow -- it's changed ownership at least twice since then though. (My favorite Indian restaurant continues to be The Delhi Palace in another hotel over on Broad River).

(By the way, if you can't see the cat in the last picture when you click for full-size, then your browser is automatically scaling images for you, which is, in my opinion, bad. You can fix it in the browser settings [it's different for Internet Explorer and Firefox].)

Written by ted on June 10th, 2008

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4 Responses to 'Howard Johnson's Motel, 200 Zimalcrest Drive: 1980s(?)'

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    This is a web site dedicated to old Hojos and has some old pictures of the two in Columbia


    1 Jul 08 at 9:46 am

  2. BTW, the motel cease being a Hojo about two years ago. It kept the Hojo brand for 40 years, which is longer than most.


    1 Jul 08 at 9:47 am

  3. Very neat site! Thanks.

    I'd dispute that it was a Hojo as recently as 2006 though. I'm pretty sure I ate at the Indian place before that, and the restaurant has changed ownership at least once since then. If he's going by HoJo's own web directory, well, I can believe they might not keep it totally up to date.


    1 Jul 08 at 11:41 am

  4. I remember that one well. Our family lived in a few miles away and when my grandparents came to town they would stay there and we would swim in the pool. There was a lounge there - the Wicked Witch, I think.

    Lou B

    1 Oct 09 at 9:37 pm

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