RESTAURANTS: Formula Profits

Since the first Howard Johnson restaurant was built in Quincy, Mass. 18 years ago, 225 more white-walled, orange-tiled units of the chain have sprung up along main highways from Maine to Florida. Last week, tall, hefty Howard Johnson announced plans to widen out. Already under construction (near Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati) were the first of 200 new branches that will carry his name, his ice cream (28 flavors) and his own brand of New England decor across the Middle West and into California.

Johnson will own few of the new places himself. Like the old restaurants, of which he owns...

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