Marriott Hot Shoppes Restaurants of the Past

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I had never heard of Marriott’s Hot Shoppes until I found this cookbook.  At their height, there were over sixty Hot Shoppes, serving what we would  probably call “family-style” food; simple food prepared daily.   The first Hot Shoppes opened in 1927 in the Washington, D.C. area, catering to many government workers.  Even before the Hot Shoppes, Bill Marriott owned an A and W Root Beer franchise.  He sold the root beer at “five cents for a frosty mug.”  The book even gives the “recipe” for preparing the mugs properly.  But since Bill wanted to expand the business to serve hot food to warm the Washington winters, he selected the name Hot Shoppes. 

During the 1930’s, the automobile came to occupy a central place in America, and drive-in service grew proportionally, with the Hot Shoppes leading the way on the East coast.  Bill Marriott hired hundreds of drive-in waiters he called “Running Boys” in 1934.  The Running Boy actually became the logo for the Hot Shoppes because he was an appropriate symbol.  From their inception, the Hot Shoppes were dedicated to serving Americans on the move.  In fact, the first Hot Shoppe opened on the very day that the most daring American on the move, Charles Lindbergh, took off on his non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic.

In the 1940’s during the war, the Hot Shoppe menus had to change because of meat and other food rationing.  Because of the meat rationing, salads, vegetable platters, and souffles were introduced and quickly gained popularity.  During the war, even Bob Hope and his USO troupe were a common site at Hot Shoppes enjoying home-style food before taking off to entertain the troops.  Throughout the 1950’s, the Hot Shoppes were serving a great deal of food-to-go, and expanded even more in the 60’s and 70’s, with busy Americans on the move. 

The recipes in the cookbook reflect the Hot Shoppes slogans:  “Food for the entire family” and “Square meals at a fair price.”  The recipes also represent the enduring styles of American cookery, and reflect tastes that have evolved over the years, from buttermilk biscuits, to chicken pot pie, to pineapple upsidedown cake.  The cookbook is a view into a little slice of Americana.

20 Responses to Marriott Hot Shoppes Restaurants of the Past

  1. May 3, 2020 at 3:34 pm #

    I took my kids to Marriott’s Great America in Gurnee when they were little. For me the best part of the visit was a little root beer shop to the right of the main entrance. It cost a nickel for a big frosty mug and was the most delicious root beer I ever had. I am wondering if anyone would know the brand of root beer they served. My reading on Marriott’s indicates the family had a history with A & W but I have visited A & W restaurants hundreds of times and it was never as good as in that little shop. What was the secret?

    • July 18, 2020 at 10:09 am #

      Rev. Reitz, I have no idea what brand of root beer could have been used at Great America. Since Great America is right near the Wisconsin border, there is an incredibly good Wisconsin root beer called “Sprecher’s” that maybe they use? Even if they don’t, that brand is the only root beer we buy. It’s so good!

  2. September 16, 2020 at 6:11 am #

    When I was a sophomore at St. Johns College High School in DC Mac Woodward a neighbor secured a summer job for me as a curb boy at the Hot Shoppes in Silver Spring. I worked the lunch shift and meet a lot of interesting people. I made 50 cents an hour and tips. Great memories.

    • September 17, 2020 at 8:12 pm #

      Great story, Tim! Thanks for sharing. Sounds like it was a fun job!

  3. October 2, 2021 at 9:20 pm #

    Back in the 50s, when I was in elementary school in Alexandria and Fairfax Virginia, the best thing in the world was the Hott Shoppes barbeque sandwich. They served it with cole slaw on the sandwich – “Carolina Style”, I think. I’ve never eaten my barbeque any other way. We always picked it up to-go, so I never ate inside.

    • October 3, 2021 at 10:53 pm #

      What a great memory, Linda. The sandwich sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing.

  4. December 26, 2021 at 9:27 am #

    My favorite place for a late-night snack growing up in Arlington, VA. I remember what may have been the first Hot Shoppe located between US 1 just off the 14th St. bridge and the railroad. Across US 1 was the old Washington Airport where the Pentagon is now. I miss the old Hot Shoppes!

    • December 26, 2021 at 9:23 pm #

      I love your story and history lesson, Fred! Thank you for sharing. I have heard from so many people who miss the old Hot Shoppes.

  5. January 25, 2022 at 8:05 pm #

    My cousin, Mary Magro Wilder worked as a dietitian for the Marriott’s Airport Hot Shoppe just off the 14th Street Bridge on US 1. Her job was to supervise the meals prepared by Marriott for the airlines. Sam Wilder,her husband and his brothers Zeke and Fletcher from Clayton, NC started with Bill Marriott when he opened his first downtown DC “take out stores”

    • January 25, 2022 at 9:10 pm #

      Thank you, Richard. I love Marriott Hot Shoppe history! Thank you for telling us how your family was a part of American culinary history.

  6. May 17, 2022 at 8:39 am #

    When I was in high school in Bethesda, MD in the mid-60’s, every high school had their “own” Hot Shoppes where you would meet up (in the parking lot mostly) on weekends and before and after big games. My first time driving there ended badly when the carhop hooked the tray to my car window and I opened it all the way to thank her and pay… What a mess (because they still used glass mugs and plates back then.) My all-time favorite thing to eat since I was a child taken to Hot Shoppes was a grilled cheese sandwich and root beer, and I’ve never been able to replicate the taste of either though I’ve tried a lot of different cheeses, breads, and root beers and I’m in my mid-70s now. How we all miss Hot Shoppes!

    • May 19, 2022 at 12:42 am #

      BJ- I have heard from so many readers about their fondness for Hot Shoppes. Grilled cheese sandwiches and root beer along with memories sound wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  7. September 3, 2022 at 1:42 pm #

    Grew up in the ’50’s & “60’s 2 blocks from B-CC High School and another 3 blocks from the Bethesda Hot Shoppes. At 10-11 years old, I had a Washington Post paper route that included
    that restaurant. I frequently stopped at their take out to pick up a few of their cheese rolls to munch on while slinging newspapers. Those rolls were superb! Burgers, fries and shakes on Friday night at the drive in were standard fare on Friday night as teenagers.

    • September 3, 2022 at 8:58 pm #

      Hi Dick – I love Hot Shoppe stories and memories. Those cheese rolls sound amazing! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  8. September 6, 2022 at 12:21 pm #

    Hi Debbie,

    I had a Washington Post Route in Bethesda from Jones Bridge Road south into the Glenbrook neighborhood. 1952-1954. Did you go to BCC?

    • September 6, 2022 at 3:02 pm #

      Hi Dick – I have never lived in Bethesda. I’m an Illinois girl!

    • September 6, 2022 at 3:26 pm #

      My Post route was same time period as yours. I’m B-CC class 1961

  9. September 8, 2022 at 8:35 am #

    Debbie Thanks for getting back to me.I graduated Gonzaga in 1956. Had friends at BCC

  10. September 21, 2022 at 12:58 pm #

    This brings back nostalgic memories of Rockville and Bethesda. Back when I was a kid my parents would take me to Bethesda Hot Shoppes restaurant. I recall the food was always good. I also think there was another Hot Shoppes on Rockville Pike, near Congressional. Does anybody remember this? It became several different restaurants; for the longest time it was a Shelley’s Woodroast, then a pizza place. I really miss the days of Hot Shoppes and HoJos.

    • September 21, 2022 at 9:05 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your memories, Belinda! So many people have written about their fondness for the Hot Shoppes.

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