Today, in addition to being National Apple Dumpling Day, is my mom’s birthday! Happy birthday, Mom!
Plus, today is also John Willard Marriott’s birthday (1900). He was the founder of the Marriott hotel chain, which is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland (side note: I once saw a deer in the parking lot of Marriott HQ, when I was there for a meeting. It’s not exactly out in the woods.)
Here’s why the dual birthday is especially interesting: Marriott started his hotel empire with the Hot Shoppe chain of restaurants, which he then expanded into airline catering, and finally into hotels. When my mom was in school, she worked at the Hot Shoppe on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase.
The last Hot Shoppe closed in December 1999, and I’m not sure I ever even ate in one, but we used to drive past the Wisconsin Avenue outpost at least twice a year, on our trips to Gartenhaus, where my grandmother stored her mink stole for the summer (talk about an industry that is probably not doing so well these days). My trips past got more frequent in 1996, when I spent a ridiculously great year traveling to Georgetown, on my way to hang out with my friend Suzanne and her roommate Brent in their P Street apartment.
That little stretch of road holds a lot of memories for the Babcock-Waskom-Pollard family - and, if the news reports about Hot Shoppe are to be believed, for a lot of other people.
So, to celebrate? Traditional diner food. Served with a side of birthday cake.