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