An Alternate Howard Johnson's
By 1985, Howard Johnson's was a struggling company, mainly with its restaurants, with its lodging chain making more money. All seemed lost, until the franchisees formed a company, called Franchise Associates, Inc., and bought both chains, having originally considered buying just the restaurant chain, in early 1986. FAI then decided that they needed to update the two chains.
TFAI had succeeded in regaining HoJo's former luster, and by 1995, had over 1,000 locations.
Arthur Barrett-President from 1986 to 1999
Barbara Leveroni-President from 1999 to 2008
Ron Butler-President from 2008 to 2015
Holly DeSantis-Current president
The commercials have an animated version of Simple Simon and the Pieman (or Lamplighter for motor lodges and the Pilot for the airline) in various situations promoting the company's latest dishes. This campaign has been going on since 2015 for the chain's 90th anniversary, and features the voices of Alanna Ubach as Simple Simon, Frank Welker as the dog, Rob Paulsen as the Pieman, Rodger Bumpass as the Lamplighter, and Tom Kenny as the Pilot. The slogan is: "Go Happy, Go HoJo's," and the commercials typically end with an exterior shot of a restaurant, a motor lodge, or a plane, depending on the chain. On February 16th, 2003, before the start of the 2003 Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt, a regular customer at the restaurant franchise, endorsed HoJo's as his favorite restaurant chain by running an orange paint scheme.
In 1996, HoJo's was a sponsor of the Alanta Olympics. That same year, the company began its NASCAR sponsorship, with the #27 of Elton Sawyer. Since 1997, HoJo's has sponsored the #31 Richard Childress Racing entry, which has had, Mike Skinner from 1997-2001, Robby Gordon from 2001-2004, Jeff Burton from 2004-2013, and Ryan Newman since 2014, driving. HoJo's also sponsored Dale Earnhardt's car on the rear corner-panels during 2002's "The Winston" event, doing so again in 2003.
In 2008, HoJo's also sponsored the Beijing Olympics.