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The Lure of Nostalgia

Treacher_logo_300The last Howard Johnson restaurant in America closed earlier this year...victim, not of bad reviews but, of the owner sexually molesting female staff. But, while it was still open, it was a pilgrimage site for Boomers that longed for all-you-could-eat fried clams.

Of course, it wasn't the fried clams the brought them to Lake George NY. It was the memories of those meals with family that was the lure.

Just as, when I used to return to my alma mater, I'd always hit the V.I. for its legendary cheese soup...even though the original recipe is long gone.

And, it's happening with Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips. Once over 800 locations strong, the Columbus OH-based chain is down to just four of the original stand-alone restaurants...all in Northeast Ohio.

According to the story in the Plain Dealer, the four remaining locations are becoming a bonafide tourist draw (especially during Lent). According to the owner of one: "It’s almost like a cult. They love the fish (but) also reliving their memories coming here with their parents or grandparents.”

He goes on to say: "We've had people call from around the country to see if we do mail order. One guy from Oregon wanted me to mail him four dozen fish & chips dinners -- I wouldn't know how to even do that."

I think I'd try to solve that dilemma.

But, channeling Samuel L. Jackson, here's the real question: "What's in your nostalgic past" to which visitors would beat a path?

Bill Geist

Bill GeistBill Geist

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