I love James Brennan’s, a writer on Fine Dining Lovers, description of a Food Hall, “Imagine a fleet of trendy food trucks has crashed through your local food court…” How perfect is that.
Food Halls started their climb to fame back in 2010, and in just 7 years there was about a 700 percent increase in the number of these new-and-improved food courts across the country.
You may wonder what’s prompted their meteoric rise. It seems to be a combination of a continuing closure of retail spaces and abandoned buildings that are a perfect fit for such venues, and the steady rise in the cost for prime space for restaurants. A perfect storm. How fortunate for us foodies.
Let’s take a look at the latest entrepreneurs entering this lucrative and growing field.
Chicago, being foodie central, has been home to the first food halls and currently has over a dozen inside its windy borders. Some of the newest include:
This chef-driven food hall platform, that opened in May of 2019, was described as “One of the world’s best new food halls” by Travel & Leisure. They describe themselves as “an elevated food hall experience that encourages the exploration of shareable dishes in beautiful, inviting, and communal spaces.” They have brought in vendors that are creating unique flavors from around the country and include Bumbu Roux, a Cajun-Indonesian Mash-Up, and Smashed Radish, a pop-up that offers healthy vegetable-forward cuisine. Politan Row’s first concept started in St. Roch Market, New Orleans.
Time Out Market Chicago is a massive three-floor, 50,000-square-foot venue that will be home to 18 chefs and is expected to open in the fall of 2019. These chefs include (to name a few) Brian Fisher of Michelin-starred Entente, and Chef Jimmy Bannos, Jr. of the Purple Pig.
This global food hall had its start in Lisbon in 2014. In May of 2019, Time Out Market Miami and New York opened, followed closely by Time Out Market Boston. Future plans include food halls in Dubai, London-Waterloo, and Prague.
Fulton Galley is a smallish version, at least in the eyes of food halls. This 10,830-square-foot food hall in Fulton Market features a bar that focuses on local brew with 20 taps available for breweries to promote their wares. They also feature buckets of single-serve wine bottles. A few of their vendors include Fairview—a venue that serves rotisserie food with Latin and American flavors, and Pink Salt, a restaurant that serves Northeastern Thai food.
Their mission is to “cultivate and accelerate aspiring restaurateurs by providing a forum to showcase their capabilities, hone their craft, develop business acumen, and build a cult following behind their concepts.”
Chicago, of course, is but one of the many cities where food halls are exploding. By the end of 2019, Denver is expected to have a total of six food halls within its borders. One of their newest is Broadway Market which offers nine food concepts, a bar, and a pour-your-own beer wall. Their goal is to be a zero-waste food hall.
Boston is another city where food halls are thriving. It looks like there will be at least three additional openings coming to the Beantown between now and 2020. High Street Place will be the new kid on the block when it opens its doors this fall. The 18,471-square-foot venue will offer 22 different restaurants, bars, and coffee vendors including a James Beard nominee, Tiffani Faison, who will be opening two new concepts: Dive Bar and Tenderoni’s. Its main visual focus will be a five-story atrium.
No wonder food halls are gaining steady ground. They bring low-cost, low-risk opportunities for chefs and an opportunity for diners to try the latest offerings from some of the most talented in the business. They are projected to nearly triple in numbers by 2020, bringing the total to about 300. Hopefully, one of these unique venues will be opening in your area soon.