When boomers recall overnight stays and fried-clam dinners at Howard Johnsons, they get warm and fuzzy--then go elsewhere. HoJo President Eric Pfeffer's answer: spiff up the 42-year-old outfit, starting on Feb. 16 with a new mostly-blue logo. Orange roofs? They're on the way out. Says Pfeffer: "As we change with the times, we've got to show the newness."
Sure, the orange roof is "an American icon--as American as apple pie and Chevrolet," the Venezuelan-born Pfeffer says. But HoJo, owned since 1990 by franchiser HFS, no longer requires orange on new properties and does not object if existing roofs are replaced. Indeed, it only hints at them in the new logo, which Pfeffer says "reduces the emphasis on orange by 300%."
Pfeffer, who in 19 years has risen from the front desk at HoJo's Miami hotel to the executive office, is striving to upgrade the chain. He kicked out 37 hotels in 1995 for quality shortfalls, and he's taking the company global. Not everything is changing: Fried clams are still on the menu.