Indeed, Marriott’s Moxy Hotels, a new, budget-priced, moderate-tier chain in Europe, aims to capture Gen Y and next-gen guests with a low-cost “help yourself” 24/7 F&B concept called the Moxy Café that drastically reduces labor in the front and back of the house.
“Millennials expect a lot from a hotel,” Poulos says. “They know they have tons of options in where to stay and spend their money, so they gravitate toward places that are vibrant, stylish, have a playful attitude, and offer great value. We took a cue from retail brands like Marks & Spencer, Zara, and H&M in delivering a great experience at an affordable price.”
The Moxy Café also takes a cue from another successful chain. “Think of it like Pret a Manger, where you walk around to refrigeration cases with vertical displays, help yourself, and check out at the end,” says Wolfgang Lindlbauer, chief discipline leader, global operations, Marriott International. “It’s cool and contemporary.”
A single supplier contracted by Marriott creates custom menu items offsite, using Moxy’s distinctive pink logo on packaging for a consistent, branded look. Guests can grab and go or heat their food on chinaware in microwaves and eat in the adjoining Living Room seating area. Meanwhile, the multi-tasking, front-of-the-house “crew members” ring up purchases, serve alcohol, and check guests in or out from the same space-saving area. The cash register, bar, and front desk all use the same footprint.
In the back of the house, there’s a small prep area and a warewasher to clean used tableware. There are no ovens or stoves, and no actual cooking takes place at Moxy. Guests plate and heat their food in Moxy’s microwaves and bus their own tables. These labor-saving elements add up to an F&B pricing strategy that is profitable for the hotel and affordable to the guest.
“Obviously, our pricing needs to reflect a retail model, where we’re basically trying to make 50 cents on the dollar just from pure product costs. The guest pays a little more for the self-service convenience we offer, but they aren’t paying a 20% service charge or the usual labor costs in a traditional restaurant model,” says Lindlbauer.
Moxy offers a core menu that is essentially the same no matter where the hotel is located. This helps keep food costs stable when buying in volume from a broadline supplier. Moxy in Milan, for example, will have a similar menu to Moxy in Oslo or Berlin.
“As we open in different cities, we may have one or two regional items if it makes sense for that location, so there’s a bit of flexibility there if we need it,” says Poulos.
The menu includes a continental breakfast priced at 10 Euros, with fruit, cereals, sliced meats, cheese, yogurt, coffee, juice, and more. The rest of the day, guests can choose from a variety of ready-made salads, sandwiches, soups, appetizers, entrées, and desserts.
Some examples are quinoa and butternut squash salad, ham and cheese on a multigrain croissant, smokey chicken wings, roasted tomato soup, vegetable lasagna, and Moxymisu, the brand’s take on tiramisu. There’s also a nightly slow-cooker meal in the café that rotates depending on the day, provided by the same broadline supplier as the rest of the menu.
So far, feedback has been positive regarding the quality of the food, with one guest on TripAdvisor noting, “Don’t let the microwave food fool you. It tastes very good and nothing like the stuff you find in the supermarket at home.”
There are no disposable plates, bowls, or tableware at Moxy, which is a preference for foodservice in Europe and also for environmentally conscious millennials.
“There’s no plastic anywhere,” says Lindlbauer. “Millennials are highly educated on sustainability issues, and even though disposables are cheaper to use, millennials would prefer to pay an extra 20 or 25 cents per meal if it means they can use real china.”
The first Moxy hotel debuted this past summer at Milan Malpensa Airport, with 13 more scheduled to open across Europe, beginning with the Munich Airport in early 2015.
“Our guests like that the space is available to them 24 hours a day, versus a standard restaurant with limited hours based on staffing constraints,” Poulos says. “Many nextgen careers are not 9-to-5 as they were with previous generations, so the tradition of structured mealtimes is at odds with their schedules. They are continuously ‘on,’ so we make sure our options are available around the clock.”Michael Costa is industry relations editor for Hotel F&B.