Photocopy 1957: John Korolow
Columbia, Missouri-- 900 I-70 Dr. S.W. (U.S. 40)

Howard D. Johnson invented restaurant franchising in 1935 when Orleans became the first licensed Howard Johnson's Restaurant. The franchising model allowed the chain to grow exponentially--providing fees and royalties to the Company and livelihoods to hundreds of its licensees. In fact there was such a clamor to join the ranks of Howard Johnson's Restaurant owners that the Company was very selective in the franchise granting process, turing away most who applied. Nonetheless an early goal of Howard D. Johnson was to see that Orange Roofs dotted the land from coast to coast. Like the Nation's expansion of the 19th century, Missouri became the chain's 20th century gateway to the West!

As with many other hard working couples of their era, Richard and Sarah Klingbeil no doubt were attracted to the promise of success that a Howard Johnson's Restaurant license offered. Accepted by the Company, the Klingbeils were granted the franchise for Columbia. Their Howard Johnson's Restaurant was opened in 1955. It was a standard Nims-type which offered seating for 88 patrons in its dining room and for several more at the Dairy Bar. Then during the early 1960s, a Lamplighter Room and Lounge were added. HoJo's enthusiast, John Korolow had the distinct pleasure of a period of correspondence with Mrs. Klingbeil during the middle 1990s. She described to him her many happy experiences with Howard Johnson's and despaired at what had happened to the chain after 1986.


Postcard ca. 1960s: Scott Sargent
The Klingbeils were no doubt a busy couple, for in 1962 they added a Motor Lodge to their Restaurant. Initially there were only 59 guest rooms, and the 1966 Mobile Travel Guide described them as having a "gay modern decor." Moreover the property also featured a shuffleboard court and a playground. Very successful with their Columbia Motor Lodge and Restaurant complex, the Klingbeils had attracted the attention of Company officials at a time of corporate redirection.

Commencing during the 1960s, soon after Howard Johnson's became a public company, Howard B. Johnson began a massive effort to shift away from restaurant franchising. His aim was to continue to sign on Motor Lodge franchisors, but to eliminate the large majority of the Restaurant licensees. Calculations and projections indicated to Howard B. that more money was to be made by having Company owned units, rather than franchises. Thus as Restaurant franchise agreements expired, the Company took many of the units to operate for itself--including Columbia in 1968. However and unlike the fate of many franchisees, the Klingbeils were offered the new Rolla complex in exchange. According to Mrs. Klingbeil's letters to John Korolow, they were the hosts at Rolla from 1968 until 1991. Thus Howard Johnson's was their "lives" for more than 36 years.

As for Columbia, the business which had been so carefully nurtured by the Klingbeils continued to prosper. Soon after the Howard Johnson Company took over its operation, the Motor Lodge was expanded to 93 guest rooms. AAA's 1968 TourBook described the rooms as being "attractively appointed...many with color TV." Then later the property came to boast 149 rooms, and counted an indoor heated swimming pool among its many amenities. Columbia's Motor Lodge remained a Howard Johnson's until 1991. It's Restaurant property was sold in 1992, and finally demolished to make way for a Ryan's.

Photos 2005 : Phil Edwards
Above & Below: Enduring many changes, Columbia's signature A-frame Gate Lodge was demolished and replaced with a more functional but extremely unattractive lobby structure. Although the guest buildings managed to retain a general amount of curb appeal, hideous windows replaced the sliders.
Postcard ca. 1970s: Scott Sargent
Photos 2005 : Phil Edwards
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