Even those casually aware of the history behind local hotel behemoth Marriott know that the chain got its start as a group of family-style restaurants called Hot Shoppes. So when the Marriott Marquis opened its doors last spring, the hotel decided to capitalize on that history and include some menu items from the company's past — with some items chosen by Bill Marriott himself.
That included the Mighty Mo, a small hamburger beloved by Hot Shoppes devotees. Apparently there are still plenty of fans of the sandwich around today. "It definitely brings people in at all hours of the day looking for the [menu] items," said chef Matthew Morrison. There's even a Facebook group called Friends of the Mighty Mo and Hot Shoppes that has sort of officially made it its mission to promote the sandwich, he said. The group posts old ads and photos of the chain, and talks about restaurants that may or may not have captured the spirit of the old restaurants. A sample post: "I was so disappointed, I heard Benny's at Cabin John on Tuckerman lane has Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake just like Hot Shoppes, I had it last night it's nothing like Hot Shoppes," writes a member of the group.
Former Hot Shoppes customers will come into Anthem to talk about dishes they used to like, such as the chain's meatloaf. One customer even told the chef that he and his wife celebrated their wedding at a Hot Shoppes. They'll reminisce about different locations, too.
Manager Ashly Wright had one customer who had his first date with his wife at a Hot Shoppes, and ended up throwing a party with all her friends with the invitations printed on Hot Shoppes postcards in the 1930s. Copies now hang on the walls of Anthem. Another customer wanted to celebrate his father's 70th birthday at Anthem. "All he wanted was a Mighty Mo — but he wanted it at 10 a.m.," said Wright. Even though it's not on the breakfast menu, the company was happy to oblige.
The Mighty Mo doesn't only draw fans from those who remember the sandwich — new customers are being introduced to the burger just by dining at the hotel. Even former mayor Vincent Gray always orders the burger when he visits Anthem.
Other Hot Shoppes items on Anthem's menu include the Teen Twist ham sandwich and desserts like the Orange Freeze. Anytime someone tells Wright they used to dine at Hot Shoppes, she likes to bring them an Orange Freeze on the house. "They always want to share, but I'll bring one out for everyone. Of course they'll finish it," she said.