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Marriott's food and beverage talent incubation enters its second year with launch of London's Notch

Marriott’s CANVAS project, a food and beverage talent incubator designed to unlock the potential of unused spaces in European Marriott hotels, returns for a second year with the launch of Notch on the rooftop of London’s Marriott Park Lane hotel.
Formerly known as Roofnic, Notch is a new concept developed by Ashley Dawes who conceived the original project in 2015 and secured investment from Marriott in his idea, whilst still an employee of London Marriott Park Lane.  

The new popup rooftop bar revolves around Japanese street food, pop cans of homemade cocktails and takes inspiration from the Millennial hotspots of Williamsberg and Berlin.  Accessed via a separate entrance off Oxford Street and designed as a sky-high industrial playground, Notch features an eclectic mix of reclaimed school tables, scaffolding and swings alongside a vibrant bar and open kitchen named Fudo Shack.

Following the great success of Roofnic in 2015, which turned over £500,000 revenue in just three months, Ashley set up DenLDN, a bar and restaurant consultancy, using the experience gained from taking part in the project as a springboard to launch his own business.

Conceived to transform and monetise unused spaces within hotels, CANVAS challenges Marriott employees and local entrepreneurs to create distinctive and engaging restaurant and bar experiences with the support of experienced operational teams at Marriott.  The creator of each winning concept is offered a minimal budget – typically just £35,000 per project – to build and develop the restaurant or bar at chosen hotel locations.

Positioned as incubator labs, these restaurants sit outside Marriott’s standard restaurant protocols in order to fully experiment with the design.  Each project is adapted and evolves depending on feedback and results, resulting in dining experiences that transform perceptions of hotel restaurants and resonate with the much sought after Millennial consumer.

Since its launch in 2015, CANVAS has completed four successful projects, three with Marriott associates and one, in Hungary, with a local entrepreneur.  These four imaginative bars and restaurants have proved to be a runaway success, providing exceptional drinking and dining experiences and also a valuable understanding of consumer demand.  There are already plans to expand CANVAS to more sites across Europe this year and each live project brings a wealth of learnings, innovation and inspiration to Marriott, which will help plan future F&B offerings within the company’s hotel network.

Jeremy Dodson, Vice President, Food and Beverage, Marriott International Europe, comments: “Innovation is high on the agenda for Marriott as we strive to connect with new audiences.  We have already learnt so much from these initial pilots and I am so proud that Ashley has returned to Marriott to bring his Notch concept to life.”

“By combining the creativity and passion of entrepreneurs with the scope and resources available in our hotels, we can create some truly extraordinary restaurant and bar experiences.  Our goal is to empower fresh-thinking, passionate F&B professionals to test out their ideas using dead space within our hotel, inspiring those who visit our hotels but also challenging us to constantly re-think and innovate our F&B offering.” 

The pilot schemes:
Roofnic in London was the first CANVAS project to launch and was the great success story of the programme. It was a summer bar that drew inspiration from the playful vibe of British summer music festivals such as Latitude and Bestival. Located at the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, and accessed via a separate, secret entrance, the team, led by Ashley Dawes, former Restaurant & Bar Manager, took an unused roof terrace and transformed it into a rustic summer garden, with simple wooden benches, folding garden furniture and – most importantly – affordable prices. The bar often had queues down the streets and was selling 1000 cocktails a day, turning over more than £500,000 in revenue over the Summer. 

Hot on the heels of Roofnic was St Pancras MI+ME, an urban cheese and charcuterie bar at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London – right by the entrance to St Pancras International Station and ideally located for travellers seeking creative and tasty food.  

Andrew Nadin, Food and Beverage Director at Renaissance St Pancras, was inspired by the booming micro-brewery scene, and the public’s appetite for simple, informal meals and bar snacks using top-quality British produce.  MI+ME serves artisan meat and cheese boards (sourced from British farms), and salt-beef sandwiches or hand-carved bacon baps. The food is complemented by delicious boutique coffee, craft beers, house wines and cocktails, while the decor augments the informal, rustic, drop-in theme: reclaimed furniture, jam-jar light fixtures and wooden benches that were designed and built by the team.

MI+ME has proved a hit and is a permanent installation offering an array of events including gin masterclasses or cured meat and craft ales, working with local suppliers to deliver insight into small craft business who provide the products to the venue.

#Hashtag Coffee Shop Berlin, situated in Marriott’s Courtyard Berlin hotel, is a lively, fashionable café serving tasty comfort food with a local twist, including melted cheese and pastrami sandwiches and baked potatoes served with innovative local fillings, such as curry wurst and doner kebab.  The café has a strong following and the signature lunch offerings are a firm favourite in the local market. 

In Budapest, the Marionett Craft Beer House was masterminded by a local entrepreneur, Imre Toth, following a highly successful community competition.  The winning concept is an intriguing industrial-style space featuring handmade puppet characters as an eye-catching feature that illustrate each of the 20 draft beer pumps. Tables, bar stools, an open kitchen and a blackboard menu complement the industrial chic surroundings, designed to appeal to locals as much as hotel guests and tourists.

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