For two years, the Kansas City Marriott Downtown has been quietly testing a new 24/7 carryout food service called Fresh Bites.

Now, the hotel has officially rolled out the new food service, which is available to both hotel guests and anyone who lives or works near the hotel with access to a computer or the new Fresh Bites app, powered by ChowNow.

Customers can place their order from the Fresh Bites online menu 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and pick it up at the MetropolitanKC restaurant located inside of the downtown Marriott hotel. Hotel guests can choose to come down and pick up their meal from the restaurant for no additional charge, or have it delivered right to their room for a $5 fee.

“Marriott, in general, realized that they were losing in-room and on-premise restaurant sales, as guests were choosing to go outside of the hotel for their meals in search of cheaper, faster and fresher meal options,” says Jami Meier, director of outlets for the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. “The traditional room service model needed an overhaul, and Fresh Bites was the answer to that. Guests can now use our app or website to order meals to be ready when they are, and they can be picked up and taken with them on-the-go or delivered in less than 20 minutes, for under $20, to their room.”

Although Fresh Bites was built to serve hotel guests, it was also intended to give people who work, play or live nearby the opportunity to order and pick up meals, too. “We want downtown office workers to use our app and order lunch from Fresh Bites and pick it up to take back to their desks,” says Meier. “Because we are open 24/7, we see potential for late-night dining from guests heading back from the Power & Light, or for those who live in the apartments surrounding downtown to use the app to order and pick up a pizza, sandwiches, burger or salad on their way home.”

The Fresh Bites program was officially rolled out in more than 200 Marriott properties at the beginning of last year. Kansas City Marriott Downtown has had the program a year longer, as the hotel was part of the original test group for the Fresh Bites concept. To accommodate the program, the hotel had to build a brand-new commercial kitchen line inside of its restaurant kitchen just for Fresh Bites. The hotel has also made tweaks to the original menu that corporate rolled out based on guest feedback and to bring some Kansas City flavor to the menu, personalizing it for this market.

“The original Fresh Bites menu was missing some of the classic room service favorites that guests often order, like pizza, wings and a classic cheeseburger, so we added them back to the rest of our new menu offerings,” explains Meier. “We have some new favorites on our Fresh Bites menu, like the fried rice bowl that is full of fresh vegetables and gluten-free, and our chef’s favorite, the Reuben sandwich.” The Reuben is a must, made with housemade corned beef braised in Guinness, housemade pickled cabbage, Thousand Island dressing, Swiss cheese and thick-cut marble-rye served with a pickle and crinkle-cut fries for $14.

The website and app allows you to pick the time you want to pick your food up, then provides you with the appropriate menu. The breakfast menu offers everything from an egg white and turkey sausage sandwich to a yogurt parfait with fresh fruit to country biscuits and sausage gravy. The lunch menu includes a BBQ Salad with brisket burnt ends, banana peppers, petite tomatoes, smoked Cheddar, housemade garlic croutons, mixed greens and creamy barbecue dressing that is also gluten-free.

“Although we do not have the ability to customize or make major substitutions on items on the Fresh Bites menu, we do have plenty of items that would meet most dietary special requests like gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian, and we have them clearly marked on the menu,” says Meier. 

The Fresh Bites dinner menu temps with adult mac 'n' cheese made with penne pasta, a rich cheese sauce and sliced chicken breast, and Kuna's premium Angus cheeseburger. There is also a cider-glazed salmon entree and Steak Ensalada featuring Creekstone Farms, KC strip steak and chimichurri vinaigrette on mixed greens with a black bean-corn relish and queso fresco.

The late-night menu offers everything on the dinner menu including a build-your-own pizza and a snacks menu including Buffalo chicken dip and chips, crispy tater tots, a dozen chicken wings and a three-cheese quesadilla.

“Fresh Bites has been a successful meal option for guests staying at our hotel, and we hope that those who live and work around our hotel will find it convenient for them to use, as well,” says Meier. “We have chefs here ready to cook 24/7 for our own guests, so we might as well offer the same to anyone looking for a fresh, delicious and affordable meal anytime day or night.”

Fresh Bites (located inside Kansas City Marriott Downtown), 200 West 12th St., Downtown, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.421.6800, freshbiteskansascity.com

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Jenny is Feast's contributing editor for Kansas City. She brakes for chef's coats.

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