Life 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!