The Marriott hotel chain is eliminating a number of jobs at Montreal’s W Hotel, as it takes over food and beverage service at the Square Victoria establishment and eliminates one of the hotel’s two bars.
As reported on Monday, the Marriott is taking control of the bars and restaurant at the W Hotel (which is owned by Marriott). For the last 13 years, these venues (restaurant Ê.A.T./Être Avec Toi and bars Wunderbar and Plateau Lounge) have been staffed and operated by smaller New York hospitality firm BPC, and were run fairly independently to the hotel that housed them, moulding prominent Montreal hospitality identities like Rebecca Wolfe (Mandy’s Salads) and Toby Lyle (Burgundy Lion co-owner).
The Marriott decision to take control of the restaurant and bars was made this fall, and the changeover happens this weekend: the bars’ and restaurant’s final night with BPC is December 16.
The Marriott did not automatically absorb any staff from BPC — instead, BPC staff (including some who had been in the hotel for as long as 13 years) were invited to reapply to their jobs, with no guarantee of being re-hired. The jobs were also open to applications from Marriott employees and the public.
An anonymous source claiming insider knowledge of BPC said that out of about 165 staff employed by BPC, several dozen were offered jobs (mostly on the restaurant side) while several other dozen were not (mostly on the bar side). The W could not confirm exactly how many people were offered jobs, saying it does not have information on BPC’s staff numbers.
The BPC source said that while the Marriott had the right to operate the spaces however it liked, the takeover process was a disappointment.
“They’re entitled to do that but it’s the way they went about it,” said the individual, who was critical of requiring existing staff to reapply for jobs and the decision to cut jobs in the midst of holiday season, immediately before the quiet winter season, when fewer local hospitality jobs are open.
“It does feel like a [corporate takeover], there’s no way to sugarcoat that, it just sucks.”
“The sentiment is that there was nothing wrong with the business.”
W Montreal’s director of sales and marketing Steve Boisclair confirmed to Eater that bar jobs were cut because the company is dropping from two bars to one (Wunderbar will reopen as a new bar, while Plateau Lounge will not). “Obviously there’s going to be job cuts from not reopening one of the spaces,” he said.
Boisclair noted that some BPC staff didn’t reapply for their roles, but also that more jobs should open up when the new bar prepares for service late in the winter (though those staff remain at least temporarily jobless). “We don’t know when we’re going to have our license so we couldn’t open our bar positions.”
Boisclair added that the Marriott prioritized bringing back previous staff, but that some newcomers received offers in place of former employees. He also defended the decision to open the jobs to the general public, saying that with hotel guests on site, the W had to ensure that the restaurant would be well-staffed enough to change operators overnight on December 16 with no problems.
Boisclair noted that the returning employees would also receive greater benefits under the Marriott, including access to the chain’s network of international hotels.