Today is Iconic American Restaurants Day. According to Holiday Insights, it celebrates the many great restaurants in the country, and the outstanding staff that works hard to make your dining experience pleasurable. There probably isn’t a better example of a great iconic American restaurant than Howard Johnson’s. The Howard Johnson’s restaurant chain was around for more than 90 years. At its peak, the chain — affectionately known as “HOJO’s” — had more than 1,000 company and franchise stores in the United States and Canada.

During the peak years in the 1940s through the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s, etc., travelers sought out the easily recognized orange roof. They had no doubt they would receive high-quality food at reasonable prices. Travelers and local residents alike thronged to HOJO’s ice cream fountain bar with lines out the door during summer months, to choose among the famous “28 flavors” of ice cream.

In addition to the ice cream, visitors could always count on the restaurant’s unchanging and ever-present offering of deliciously filling menu items. But, unfortunately, all good things come to an end: the last HOJO’s located in Lake George, New York, closed its doors in 2017. The reason for the HOJO’s restaurant chain’s slow demise, you ask? They failed to update their menu! RIP clam strips.

Without a doubt, the list of great American restaurants is endless. Large national chains like Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Olive Garden and Black Bear Diner readily come to mind. But there are also the countless one-location restaurants in your local community that fill the bill of great food. Go outside of your town, and no one has ever heard of that great breakfast shop, sushi bar, hamburger joint, sidewalk cafe or Italian restaurant that you frequent.

It’s going to be a wonderful experience celebrating Iconic American Restaurants Day today: Grab the family or a few friends, and head off to your favorite restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just think: three meals out, and you don’t have to remember to take something out of the freezer to defrost, heat up the kitchen cooking, or wash dishes. And you get to have great food and support the local businesses.

While you’re there enjoying a fabulous meal, don’t forget dessert. Or maybe eat dessert first; that way, you won’t forget, and you can take your leftover dinner home and have it for lunch tomorrow. Also, make sure to show your appreciation to the waitstaff, table busser, chef and manager. After all, it’s their day, too.

This hot weather really is getting on my last nerve. More than 30 days hotter than 100 degrees this year so far and counting. We had a little relief last week with the monsoonal clouds, and Sunday was somewhat enjoyable. If it would only stay that way, that would be wonderful, but I’m not holding my breath. I think there are a few more 100+ days coming before it is said and done. However, to put a good spin on hot weather, I took all the bottles of sugared-up honey and put it outside in the sun and, sure enough, it is now a golden liquid ready to eat.

Flower of the day: Snapdragons

Recipe of the day: Ambrosia Salad

Dates to remember:

Sept. 5 – Labor Day – No school

Sept. 11 – Patriot Day

Sept. 22 – Autumnal equinox

Until next week — be strong, be courageous and make a memory.