Marriott International plans to inspire a new generation of food and drink entrepreneurs taking lead from J. Willard Marriott himself, who got his start by opening a nine-seat A&W root beer stand back in 1927. The hotel company recently launched CANVAS, a program that invites entrepreneurs, chefs, bartenders and artisans to pitch a food or drink concept for specific Marriott hotels. If the idea is good enough, the entrepreneur may wind up opening a creative F&B concept in one of the company’s hotels—adding something new to the mix for event planners.
The Dec. 17 launch asked entrepreneurs to visit www.canvas-startup.com to pitch F&B concepts for specific Marriott hotels, starting with the JW Marriott Schenzhen and Renaissance Phoenix Downtown. Over the next six months, that number of locations will grow to 12 pilot hotels around the world. Once the ideas are submitted, a committee of local restaurateurs, foodies, hotel owners and restaurant/bar experts will choose which entrepreneurs provided the most creative and sound business plans. Marriott will then provide the resources, space and expert support to start the winning restaurant. After six months of operations, each concept will then undergo an evaluation for success based on popularity and return on investment.
John Wolf, a spokesperson for Marriott, says that it is still to early to tell how these F&B concepts could be integrated into group menus. However, meeting planners can expect the concepts to add new options to some of the hotel company’s more underutilized F&B spaces.
“Our goal is to test the program in 12 hotels, equally divided among our three continental regions: Americas, Europe, Asia and Middle East/Africa,” Wolf says. “We are focusing on properties that have underutilized or underperforming F&B space that could be a good option for an entrepreneur to test a concept. It could be a bar a restaurant or smaller location, such as a breakfast or specialty outlet.”
The program is Marriott’s approach to launching locally relevant, distinctive F&B experiences at its properties, appealing to a younger generation of customers. “We believe the key ingredient of CANVAS is to marry the best ideas of local entrepreneurs with Marriott’s resources, space and capital that will transform ambition into action right inside our hotels,” says Wolfgang Lindlbauer, global leader, Food & Beverage for Marriott. “Just like travel, food and drink experiences today are about indulgence and discovery for modern travelers and local clientele alike, to savor, enjoy and share.”