Then and Now: Hot Shoppes

by Katie Pyzyk June 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm 15,207 26 Comments


The photo on the left shows the Hot Shoppes location at 1325 Lee Highway in Rosslyn, during the 1930s. It was part of the chain started locally by J. Willard Marriott in 1927.

Marriott and his wife, Alice, moved to the D.C. area from Utah. He launched a restaurant based on his affinity for American Southwest foods such as spicy BBQ, chili and tamales. The name came from his desire for a restaurant that would provide hot food to warm the D.C. residents during the wet chill of an Eastern winter.

The couple built their Hot Shoppes brand on the slogans “food for the entire family” and “square meals at a fair price.” Over time, the menu expanded to include all types of fare besides Southwest dishes, but the attention to service remained. Eventually, that commitment to service and hospitality led to success in other areas, most notably the family’s well known hotel brand.

(Marriott’s first hotel, which opened in 1957, was the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel, located near the 14th Street Bridge in Arlington.)

By 1960, there were 70 Hot Shoppes in D.C. and seven states. Jazz musician Duke Ellington and his band recorded seven versions of the Hot Shoppes theme song, which aired in radio ads from 1967-1968.

The last one closed in 1999. However, fans will be pleased to know at least one of the restaurants will be resurrected, as noted in the Washingtonian’s December 2011 interview Marriott’s son, Bill.

The photo on the right shows how the area looks now. It is where the area formerly known as “Rosslyn Circle” used to be, but is now Arlington Gateway Park.

Below is a commercial for Hot Shoppes from 1970.

Historic photo courtesy Arlington Public Library’s Virginia Room

  • JB

    Then Sam’s Corner came along, and made such good sandwiches it put them out of business, and made so much money doing it they never had to open unless they felt like it.

    • Krazai

      It’s really rude that ArlNow didn’t post the hours Hotshoppes was open.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    The Hot Shoppes were great and I miss them. My family went to the one at Lee Highway & Kirkwood all the time. Best Mighty Mo, steak & cheese and onion rings.

  • YTK

    I really miss Hot Shoppes. I remember the one JUST before the Southern end of the 395 (Shirley Highway) bridge . There was a bus stop there. Ther was also another Hot Shoppes about 3/4 of a mile from that one– at the Marriott hotel near National (now Reagan National) Airport.

  • Wire

    Omar is coming, Omar is coming………..

  • Matt

    Love when ARL Now posts historical pictured.

  • Winning!

    Hot Shoppes Part Deux???

    • sizzler

      + 1000

  • Arlingtonian

    My dad is from this area and used to tell me about Hot Shoppes all the time and how good it was. My uncle used to work at one of the Arlington ones after school. I’m glad to get a chance to try some of this legendary Hot Shoppes food when the new one opens.

  • Bluemontsince1961
  • DB

    That’s cool. Thanks for posting this. You usually only see old photos of the Brewery (later Cherry Soda plant–where Marriott is now standing) and the W&OD train yard (where I-66 is located) in old photos of Rosslyn. Thanks.

  • Vinh An Nguyen

    Wish this particular one was still there.

  • BrownClown

    Want to see a magic trick? Feed me some chili dogs and I’ll turn your bathroom into a Hot Shoppe.

  • Elmer

    I remember the Hot Shoppes in Shilington. Saw a hippie from Wakefield HS get into a fight in the parking lot there one Friday night after a football game in ’66 or ’67. He made the mistake of wearing his earring that night. Had it jerked right off with most of his earlobe.
    He wasn’t such a cool looking dude ((hipster?) after that.
    They never learn.

    • Vicente Fox

      Yes, bullies never learn how to act civilized. Some of them even grow up to run for president.

  • Mc

    The Twin Bridges Marriott feels like it was built in 1957, even though the current building dates fom 1990. Sadly Marriott is a very fusty brand, and there is way too much Marriott in Arlington.

    • wut

      wut current building?

  • Peter

    Anyone know a good place to get prints of historical Arlington pictures?

  • Jerry

    The Hot Shoppes restaurant was where the Key Bridge Marriott now stands, around Rosslyn Circle (now Arlington Gateway Park), not in the middle of the circle/park, as erroneously stated in this article. The Hot Shoppes and circle are visible in the 1965 photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4409875258/.

  • Skeptical

    When I was a youngster in Arlington, Hot Shoppes and some fairly awful chop suey joints were the only restaurants in Arlington. Don’t get too nostalgic. I remember mealy hamburgers and the famous Hot Fudge Sundae, which, looking back, was a gluey sugar bomb of death with a fake-red cherry in the Reddi Wip top. Interesting to an eight year old palate, but nothing anyone actually ought to be eating. Ever.

    And there were those horrible monthly newsletters tucked in with the condiments, riddled with faux profundities by Martin Buxbaum.

    I used to read through these, just for something to pass the time, recognizing even at a tender age that I was looking at dreck.

  • dasarlington

    Does anyone remember the Teen Twist?

    • YTK

      Ummmm. Yes — and the Mighty Mo and when I worked there in the 60’s they had Filet Mignon and THE BEST Onion rings. their strawberry pie was great too and the HF (cake) sundaes were gloppy but good.
      The only bad thing about working there in the Summer was those nylon uniforms– they were hot– every so often I would run into the freezer to cool off and would encounter 2 or 3 other employees in there, talking and cooling off.
      Anyone remember Wanda? She worked the counter and had a mile high beehive hairdo- she was a wonderfu lady and I miss her — I think she and her family moved out of state.

  • Thomas Crickenberger

    Does anyone have a photo or picture of the Hot Shoppes in Fredericksburg, Va. that was located on US Rt. 1.


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