Since last December, the restaurant and hospitality industry has waited with bated breath to see who would win the right to operate food and beverage at one of the world’s largest hotels properties.
Late last month, the news was finally confirmed that iconic restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) had been awarded the contract to operate the food and beverage at Manhattan’s Marriott Marquis Hotel. USHG will operate the hotel’s restaurants and bars, and Union Square Events (USE) will manage catering on the property.
The size and scope of the Marriott Marquis food and beverage operation is eye opening. The 1,966 room Times Square facility restaurant and catering operation generates some $50 million plus per year.
Shortly after Christmas 2020, the Request For Proposal process began with contract feeders being invited to bid on the Marquis contract. The move came on the heels of Marriott’s termination in December of approximately 850 employees in the Food & Beverage Department and in some other departments, including housekeeping.
USHG’s Marriott initiative will be guided by a pair of veteran executives: Tony Mastellone and Anton Nocito. Mastellone is the Division President of Union Square Events. Meyer and his team are no strangers to the hotel food and beverage industry. Their partnerships include The Redbury, Gramercy Park Hotel and Conrad in NYC, as well as the Thompson D.C.
Mastellone leads Union Square Events as a 30-year veteran in the New York City hospitality business. After graduating from The French Culinary Institute, Mastellone honed his skills in various culinary roles at the New York Hilton. He then joined Marriott Management Services as a Sous Chef in the corporate dining sector, steadily advancing through numerous leadership roles.
Prior to joining Union Square Events, Mastellone was Senior Vice President at an international corporate dining company, where he was responsible for a diverse, national portfolio of Business & Industry clients. During his tenure, the Brooklyn, NY native drove significant growth in the market with breakthrough activities in Airline Lounges, Off-Premise Catering, and Retail Dining.
Nocito is the Executive Chef of Restaurants & Bars at New York Marriott Marquis. Before embarking on a career in the hospitality industry, Nocito served in the United States Air Force and spent time overseas in the Gulf War. After moving back to New York, he attended the French Culinary Institute and soon after took a job as a line cook at Union Square Cafe in 2001. Later, he worked on the opening team at Terrace 5 and Cafe 2 at the Museum of Modern Art. Nocito then left USHG to launch P&H Soda, an artisanal soda company.
Nocito rejoined USHG in 2016 as the Executive Sous Chef at Porchlight, where he elevated its culinary program, resulting in the craveable, southern-inspired menu served at Porchlight today. In 2018, Anton was named the Executive Chef of Porchlight and the Opening Executive Chef of Cedric’s at The Shed in 2019. In 2021, he was named Executive Chef of Restaurants & Bars at New York Marriott Marquis.
As with many New York City hotels, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to Marriott looking to reduce costs in New York and other major markets across the country by shedding long-term employees and replacing them with a subcontracted workforce. In unionized Marriott hotels in New York City, union workers did not have their jobs subcontracted, shining a spotlight on the importance of union protections.
With foodservice off the table, the local Union HTC set its sights on unionizing housekeeping workers. “Our union already had an ongoing organizing effort in progress, including a strong organizing committee who were doing their best to convince their coworkers to sign up with the Union,” Lead Organizer and Director of Organizing Julia Rybak remarked.
This led to the successful unionization of the Marquis housekeeping staff earlier this year. “The shock of the massive food and beverage termination provided the final push to give the Union a super-majority,” Rybek continued. “This is a bittersweet victory because 850 Marquis workers learned, too late, that corporations are not driven by sentimental feelings like loyalty.”
Workers in the hotel’s Food and Beverage department were told they would not receive priority to be rehired if their positions eventually return. There had been discussion with State Sen. Brad Hoylman office about introducing a “right of recall” bill at the state level, which would require employers to re-hire former workers if their jobs came back.
It would seem as if the results were that HTC-Union picked its battle and that was to choose between housekeeping and food and beverage. “Even though it took longer than we would have liked, we are delighted that the Marriott Marquis is now a union hotel and we warmly welcome the Marquis workers into our ranks,” added HTC President Rich Maroko.