Sketch Your Restaurant Dreams on Canvas at the Irvine Marriott

The hospitality giant’s food-and-drink idea lab offers real-world backing to the candidate with the right idea

Orange County chefs and restaurateurs, working or wishing-to-be: Marriott International has a very intriguing offer for you. Enter your idea for a restaurant or bar concept in the Irvine Marriott’s Canvas program, and you could win just about everything you need to make it happen, including startup funds, a rent-free space in the hotel that’s customized to your specifications, and professional guidance. You’ll have a 500-square-foot former private dining room overlooking the hotel patio to work with, which is, in the company’s words, “a completely blank canvas.”

The Irvine hotel is one of only three Marriott locations worldwide chosen for this entrepreneurial incubator-within-a-multinational. The company says there’ll be a dozen Canvas sites in six months, but for now, Irvine’s part of a very exclusive group—there’s another in Phoenix, and the third’s in China. “We looked for spaces in vibrant cities in hotels with a particular appetite for creativity and innovation,” says Jillian Katcher, Marriott’s director of design and development, global operations. I’m not surprised—Orange County’s a hugely exciting place for food. Wouldn’t it be great if a hotel restaurant reflected this reality?

Now, gather your thoughts, plans, hopes, and dreams. And do it fast: Application deadline is Friday, Jan. 16, and entrants must be available Jan. 28 and 29 for in-person interviews. Entry details are here. I can’t wait to see what our local talent comes up with—and to watch the webisodes Marriott plans to film, documenting the project.


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