Howard Johnson’s, Wellington Circle

On February 8, 2014, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

del_ponte_4_webLife in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte 

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and  do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

Remember that bright orange roof? I think they made it bright orange so you could see it when you were coming home early in the morning from a bar…in a fog. Howard Johnson’s at Wellington Circle was a very popular spot for after-hours meeting and eating.

It first opened in 1938. In the area at the time were lots of cool places like The Wellington Drive-in, Richardson’s Car Hop, Child World, J.M. Fields, Zayre’s and The Holiday Lanes Bowling Alley on Revere Beach Parkway.

Although they never had entertainment per say, all you had to do was look around any time after 1 a.m. to see some very comedic antics and alcohol-induced tomfoolery. I always got something called The Big Breakfast or The Big Breakfast Two. It was eggs, toast, sausage, home fries and coffee, and it really hit the spot. The mac and cheese, fried chicken and clam strips were also scrumptious. The Sunday morning buffet was a true crowd pleaser. Nothing better than a meal and a show!

Although it was in Medford (Meffa), lots of us Somerville kids made it our last stop after a night of partying and/or working. If you could make it safely from the Revere area, or from Route 1, past the MDC cops, you could enjoy a delicious pit stop. You were bound to see someone you knew in there, too. A friend of mine worked there with forged working papers when she was only 14.

At HoJo’s, they let you stay as long as you wanted as long as someone didn’t need the table – and if you weren’t raising a ruckus.

HoJo’s was the best breakfast place you would hit coming from the beach (Revere). If you felt lucky, you could attempt a further jaunt up Route 16 to The Golden Egg on Mystic Ave. And if you really felt adventurous, you could move on to Kay and Chips in Somerville. HoJo’s was the closest and the safest haven. My fellow musicians and I who had played at The Caravan, Sammy’s Patio and The Excuse Me Lounge frequented HoJo’s.

“One Saturday/Sunday morning, a food fight broke out. Someone called Kiss 108 and it was on air with Diana Steele as we were driving home.” Good stuff! My cousin recalled a pleasant, very tall waiter who worked at HoJo’s and then ended up at Bickford’s in Somerville. Maybe George?

Unfortunately for Howard Johnson’s, at those early hours and considering the condition of some of the patrons, it was the perfect place for the old “chew and screw” (when you eat and then take off without paying). The fact that it was crowded didn’t help. At one time, they featured a kids’ menu that could be made into a hat with an astronaut theme. I’m sure you remember the familiar Simple Simon, small boy and dog logo.

I know they had a fire at one point because a friend of mine was on her way there the night it burned. “We came over the hill one night and saw it was on fire. We watched it burn until the weathervane on the top collapsed.”

My friend Rick seems to be pretty sure that the closing date was Dec. 31,1998.

If I could go back in time, I would create a realty show called something like Morning Munchies. I would put cameras at HoJo’s, The Golden Egg and Kay and Chips. Now that would be an entertaining show worth watching!


14 Responses to “Howard Johnson’s, Wellington Circle”

  1. Dorothy Lord says:

    I worked there in the forty’s.(I am now 86) Howard Johnson, himself, used to visit frequently, just to talk with and get aquainted with staff.

  2. Dorothy Lord says:

    I worked there in the forty’s.(I am now 86) Howard Johnson, himself, used to visit frequently, just to talk with and get aquainted with staff

  3. ritepride says:

    Yes those were fun times. I remember the trolleys that travelled along the Fellsway from Sullivan Square through Medford’s Fellsway area.
    The aroma of food that traveled through the air.

    Friday’s at Richardsons and the occasional visits by Registry of Motor Vehicles Police checking out the kids cars. One night the kid gave the cops some flack, they pulled him out of the car, ripped his license in half and towed the car, an expensive night for the kid’s dad.

    If HoJos restaurant was filled youd get your fries, burger, dog and sit on the hood of your car watching the activity going on in the area.

    Never remember seeing much of the Medford cops but then again The Clemente Cop gang were busy ripping off area stores like Zayre’s etc. during those times.

  4. Ken Krause says:

    Did you know that Anthony Sammarco recently published a book on the history of the Howard Johnson restaurants?

  5. Kristin K. says:

    The original colonial-style building burned down in the mid to late 70s, and it was replaced by the modem style building that was there until it closed down. Not sure about the closing date, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t until at least some time in 1999 (maybe even 2000) because my ex-boyfriend and I had our first unofficial, kind of-sort of date there to have coffee and talk, and I’m pretty sure it was shortly after New Years Eve 1998. HoJos was a great go-to place after a night out bar hopping, even right up until it closed for good. Very few places to go these days. The only one around I can think of to compare is the Bickford’s on Montvale Ave. in Woburn.

  6. Roberta Sensale Parrinello says:

    I miss those good old days! Nothing like stopping @ HoJo’s for breakfast after a night of hanging with friends @ The Town Line or The Palace…good times!!! You could always count on running into someone you knew!!

  7. JAR says:

    Coming back from Jacob’s Ladder at 0200, it was a welcome sight indeed. They used Apple jelly on their PB&J’s. If it was crowded, there was always Ming Toy. What’s left for all-nighters these days? What serves those who earn their livings on the overnight shift driving around, etc.?

  8. joan says:

    JAR, you’ve hit on a great question. There is absolutely no place to go for late-night snacks. There is also noplace like Howard Johnsons or Carrol’s DIner, where you could go in the evening for a snack or dessert after a show.

  9. amen says:

    Kay & Chips, anyone? mobbed at 2:00 a.m. Mt. Vernon is the only place to go after 10:00. For this discussion, I’m ignoring hipster Davis Square food. Carrol’s was great, The Golden Egg on Mystic–Dragon Villa.

  10. Ron Newman says:

    there’s Gourmet Express in Porter Square, but it could be torn down soon.

  11. Rob Wilcox says:

    Does anyone remember a miniature golf course in this area?

  12. A.Moore says:

    I remember a driving range. If there was one I don’t recall it.

  13. amen says:

    there was a miniature golf course between HoJo’s and Meadow Glen Mall. It was pretty good, batting cages, I think, also. maybe late 80’s? it was there for 5-6 years.

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