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Site of last Howard Johnson’s restaurant up for sale


End of the line for HoJo’s

No one likes to watch a legendary brand go out this way. Back in the 1970s, nearly 1,000 Howard Johnson’s orange roofs dotted the landscape. But the number of HoJo’s restaurants slowly dwindled to one, an outpost in Lake George, N.Y. Now that last property is being advertised as a “prime development opportunity.” HoJo’s uber-fan Walter Mann first broke the news on his Hojoland.com blog, writing that this represents “undoubtedly the final chapter” in the chain’s history. HoJo’s roots go back to an ice cream shop in Quincy that founder Howard D. Johnson opened more than 90 years ago. He built the business into a formidable empire, a network of roadside restaurants that flourished amid the country’s suburbanization. Restaurant franchisees soldiered on after Marriott bought the HoJo’s brand in the 1980s. But by the 2000s, only a handful of restaurants were still around, essentially operating independently. There were two efforts during the past decade to revive the business by different entrepreneurs who tried to work out a deal with Wyndham Worldwide, which now owns the HoJo’s brand and oversees a hotel chain with the Howard Johnson name. But those efforts didn’t go very far. The Lake George restaurant would draw nostalgic customers, happy to see a HoJo’s preserved somewhat intact. But nostalgia, unfortunately, doesn’t pay the bills. — JON CHESTO


North Shore Medical Center names new president

North Shore Medical Center has named a new president, who will take charge as the Salem-based hospital moves ahead with a more than $200 million renovation and expansion project. Dr. David J. Roberts, 63, is expected to begin his new job in the spring. He currently serves as chairman of medicine and chief of cardiology at North Shore Medical Center, a hospital owned by Boston-based Partners HealthCare. He will succeed Robert G. Norton, 66, who retired in December. Dr. Gregg S. Meyer, a Partners executive, has been serving as interim president. Roberts has been on the medical staff at North Shore since 1985 and at Massachusetts General Hospital since 1993. North Shore Medical Center, which has struggled with financial losses for many years, has been moving to close its Lynn campus and consolidate operations in Salem. The project is slated to be finished in 2019.



Vertex painkiller shows promise in study

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., which made its name in the rare cystic fibrosis, is wading into a risky, competitive race to develop drugs that work better than over-the-counter painkillers but don’t carry the deadly risks of opioid therapy. Vertex’s treatment, called VX-150, showed promise in a study on 124 patients with knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, significantly improving symptoms compared with placebo, the Boston company said Wednesday. Later this year, Vertex plans to study the drug in nerve pain and acute pain, after which it will decide how best to move forward, CEO Jeff Leiden said.VX-150 is meant to work as a sort of off-switch for pain, targeting a protein called Nav1.8 that plays a role in sending signals to the brain. Biogen, Amgen, and Genentech are already at work on therapies that work similarly. — DAMIAN GARDE/STAT



Target issues new policy on chemicals in products

Target Corp. introduced a sweeping new policy governing chemicals in products, a move that will push hundred of suppliers to list ingredients in everything from fragrances to floor cleaner. The guidelines include removing perfluorinated chemicals and flame retardants from textiles in the next five years, as well as eventually disclosing ingredients in all products. Target’s new rules come amid growing consumer demand for green goods -- whether it’s organic food, natural cosmetics, or cleaning products -- that have fewer controversial ingredients. Sales of the retailer’s Made to Matter line, which touts “cleaner” ingredients, rose 30 percent last fiscal year. The move follows a similar effort by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in July, when the world’s largest retailer moved toward banning eight chemical groups, including formaldehyde and triclosan. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Trump era pushes ‘1984’ to number one on Amazon

With ‘‘alternative facts’’ the latest catch phrase, George Orwell’s ‘‘1984’’ is No. 1 on Amazon.com and the publisher has ordered an additional 75,000 copies. Signet Classics told The Associated Press in a statement Wednesday that sales have been ‘‘remarkably robust’’ for a book that already is a classroom standard. The publisher noted that books such as Orwell’s tap into ‘‘the fears, anxieties, and even hopes’’ of readers. The heightened interest in Orwell’s dystopian classic, in which language itself is held captive, follows assertions by President Trump and some White House aides about the size of his inaugural crowd and whether voter fraud led him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton last fall. Administration adviser Kellyanne Conway has called such assertions ‘‘alternate facts.’’


Novartis may spin off eye-care company it bought for more than $50 billion

Novartis, which spent several years and more than $50 billion acquiring the Alcon eye-care company, is ready to give up on the business. After more than a year of efforts to turn around the business, Europe’s second-largest drug maker on Wednesday said it was considering all options for the embattled division, including a spinoff or initial public offering. Profit from the business plummeted 31 percent last year even as Novartis sought to improve its operations by appointing a new manager, injecting funds to bolster its customer service, and making small acquisitions. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Forcing women to wear heels is illegal, British committee says

When Nicola Thorp reported to work a while back as a temporary receptionist, she was shocked when her temp supervisor said that her flat shoes were unacceptable. She would need to get herself shoes with heels at least 2 inches high. When she refused, she was sent home from the accounting firm PwC without pay. Five months later, Thorp, an actress originally from the northern seaside city of Blackpool, England, started a petition calling for a law that would make sure no company could ever again demand that a woman wear heels to work. The petition garnered more than 150,000 signatures, helped spur a popular backlash — dozens of professional women posted photographs of themselves on Twitter defiantly wearing flats — and prompted an inquiry overseen by two parliamentary committees. On Wednesday, more than two years after Thorp, now 28, strode into that office in her chic but sensible black flats, the committees released a report concluding that Portico, the outsourcing firm that had insisted she wear high heels, had broken the law. It added that existing laws needed to be toughened to overcome outmoded and sexist workplace codes. — NEW YORK TIMES


Facebook mimics Snapchat’s Stories

Facebook hasn’t been shy about copying Snapchat, its smaller social-media rival. Now it’s unveiling the biggest and boldest clone so far: a feature resembling Snapchat’s Stories, directly within the Facebook application. Snapchat Stories are short annotated videos and photos that people post to their entire audience, viewable for 24 hours only. The feature was already knocked off by Instagram, Facebook’s photo-sharing app, in August — and that version is now used by 150 million people daily, about as many as use the entire Snapchat application. Facebook’s adoption means the tool will be exposed to a global audience of 1.8 billion people, including many who haven’t yet been introduced to Snapchat.