Updated by the Center for Local History on 3/26/2018.
If the phrases “chicken box for two” or “pantry pack” sound familiar to you, then it is probably safe to assume that once upon a time, you were a customer at a Hot Shoppes restaurant.
A classic slice of Americana, the first Hot Shoppes was established in Washington D.C. in 1927 by J. Willard Marriott, best known for founding the Marriott Corporation. By 1960, there were 70 Hot Shoppes restaurants in seven states and the District of Columbia. Arlington boasted a number of locations, including Crystal City, Shirlington, and Columbia Pike.
The Columbia Pike location in particular became a venerable Arlington institution, providing a loyal clientele with “Southern Home-style” cooking at affordable prices for 32 years.
There were two located on Columbia Pike. One at 2820 and the other located at 4707 Columbia Pike in the Barcroft neighborhood. Hot Shoppes not only offered quality food, but also served as a neighborhood gathering place where customers felt like they were treated as family and seniors could take advantage of special discount prices. As time went by, the rise of fast food restaurants put increasing pressure on cafeteria style establishments such as Hot Shoppes. The Marriott Corporation began converting most locations into Roy Rogers restaurants in the mid-1970s and the Barcroft location was no exception, changing over around 1978. 4070 Columbia Pike also served as the future site of the second location of Bob & Edith’s Diner, and Sauca. The building was torn down in 2017 for a new mixed use development.
Some Hot Shoppe trivia:
- The first Hot Shoppe started as a curbside food stand selling A&W; Root Beer and tamales in 1927.
- In 1967, Hot Shoppes officially changed its name, becoming the Marriott Corporation.
- Jazz musician Duke Ellington and his band recorded seven versions of the Hot Shoppes theme song which were aired on radio as part of an advertising campaign in 1967-1968.
- The last Hot Shoppes restaurant, located in a Marlow Heights shopping mall in Washington D.C., closed on December 2, 1999.
What About You?
What do you remember about the Hot Shoppes restaurants? Let us know what you remember!