Driving it

printCatering to the Car

Howard Johnson's
A Magnet for Motorists

[see large picture]

While fast-food restaurants are commonplace today, chain restaurants were a relatively recent phenomenon when the Turnpike was being planned in the late 1940s. Howard Johnson's had created the highway landmark concept along eastern seaboard highways in the late 1930s. In 1951 it received the contract for the Turnpike's nine original lunchrooms and two restaurant facilities scheduled for later construction. Advertisements like this one from the 1950s emphasize their role as an attraction for highway drivers. The notion of sit-down restaurants with wait staff suggested a traveling public with the leisure time to use them and signified that the journey itself was an event—part of the Turnpike "experience."

Howard Johnson's advertisement, "Calling all Appetites!" 1950s
Collections of The New Jersey Historical Society, courtesy of Howard Johnson International