Central Food Hall

What Is a Central Food Hall?

A food hall is a sprawling market that showcases a variety of local mini-restaurants, food vendors, and one or two food-focused shops, all under one roof. You can also expect to find bars, a butchery, various activities, and live music.

Unlike food courts – which are located in shopping malls and often consist of a collection of fast food chains – food halls are often in urban (remodeled) warehouses or ground floors of mixed-use buildings and focus on local rather than chain restaurants. Food is usually prepared fresh to order – no heat lamps here.

These halls are flipping the old food court model on its head. Food is no longer an amenity but the main reason why people visit these areas.

When Did Food Halls Become Popular?

Although food halls have been around for awhile, they’ve only recently stepped into the spotlight. In 2010, there were just 25 halls in the entire U.S., but by 2015 that number had more than doubled to over 50.

From there, growth only accelerated. At the end of 2017, there were 118 across the entire country and, one year later, that number is closer to 180. Based on this growth, some predict the number will explode to 300 by 2020.

Why Are Central Food Halls So Popular?

Food halls represent the same kind of shift that came with food trucks in 2008, when people wanted to move away from larger chains in search of something unique but still fast and affordable. A changing food culture, rising labor costs, skyrocketing urban rent, and the growing realization from retailers that food attracts people – these are all playing a role in the rise of food halls.

The inherent success of food halls is also fuelling this growth — only three have failed out of the more than 100 that have opened across the U.S.

When you think about the many benefits for customers, retail developers, and restaurants, such an incredible level of success shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Where Can I Find Food Halls?

It seems like food halls are popping up in every state and city, with some already constructed or under construction in the major food scenes of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, as well as smaller cities like Austin, Plano, Portland, Maine, and Omaha.

Below are just some of the many food halls in Chicago and New York.

The Many Benefits of Food Halls

For Customers:

What draws the average person to a food hall? Check out some of the top benefits for customers.

  • Unique food experiences: There are many food vendors and types of cuisine available, which appeal to customers who crave artisanal food experiences.
  • A world of choice: Customers can choose from a wide variety of food and drinks.
  • Convenience: Diners can access this vast assortment of food under roof, which means they don’t have to shop around for instant gratification.
  • Atmosphere: With live music and other activities, food halls provide a vibrant ambience.
  • Affordability: Diners know they can purchase tasty dishes at prices that won’t break the bank.
  • Novelty: For many, the sheer novelty of the experience – culinary browsing, along with the atmosphere – provides more than enough appeal.

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