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Tasting Success With Roy Rogers

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2014-01-06-RoyRogers.jpg

Each year Pete and Kathy Hubschmitt send me a beautiful calendar for the next year. It features wonderful photos of birds and animals that Pete has personally taken. He has spent his career in our hotels, retiring as an area vice president several years ago. I think he may be one of the best wildlife photographers in the whole country!

This November he enclosed a picture of Roy Rogers -- the movie star cowboy standing in front of a Marriott airport van at our Key Bridge Marriott Hotel. It was a postcard size photo entitled "Roy Rogers in Town for Hot Shoppe Jr. Conversion to Roy Rogers publicity." Boy, did this bring back memories. The bottom of the card said, "The Double-R Bar Burger Rivaled the Mighty Mo." I hadn't thought about the Double-R Bar Burger for a long time.

In the 1960s, we were expanding Marriott hotels but also rapidly growing our restaurant business. After all, our Hot Shoppes full-service restaurants were our major business which expanded from our 1927 A&W Root Beer stand. In the early 60s, we were being surrounded by McDonald's fast food restaurants with lower prices and faster service. To combat them, we opened Hot Shoppes Jr. -- our own version of fast food. It got off to a great start so we began to build a portfolio of fast food concepts. We bought Gino's, a small fast food chain named for the famous Baltimore Colts football player, Gino Marchetti. Later we acquired Robees Roast Beef chain, a group of fast food places featuring Robees roast beef sandwiches. But we did not have a nationally recognized name for these fast food units that would allow us to roll them out across the country.

Bob Wain, the founder of Bob's Big Boy restaurants which we acquired in 1968, was on our board of directors and suggested we contact Roy Rogers as he had a national reputation & he might rent us his name. So we did and renamed Robees & Gino's to Roy Rogers roast beef restaurants featuring great freshly sliced roast beef sandwiches and a double decker Double-R Bar Burger. Overnight, Roy's was a big success. As time went on, we converted all our Jr. Hot Shoppes restaurants to Roy's and eventually sold the Roy's chain to another restaurant company.

Back in the 70s, Wall Street was really excited about companies that took the conglomerate approach and we were in as many different businesses as possible. We gave into the direction of Wall Street and at one time we were in the restaurant, theme park, cruise ship, food service management and hotel business with 15 different brands.

It took us 30 years to whittle them down to hotels, but in hotels, we have 19 brands. So, we are in one business today with many brands instead of 15 different businesses & different brands.

Thank you for allowing me to take you on a trip down memory lane. I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

This post first appeared on MarriottOnTheMove.com.