5 trends propelling a new era of food halls

Food halls have not only become an economical solution for restauranteurs and chefs experiencing skyrocketing retail prices and rents in large cities, but they also tap into our increased interest in gourmet locally sourced food, writes Gensler's Toshi Kasai.

September 13, 2016 |
GenslerOn

City Point Brooklyn - Food Hall Study images.

In 2010, an unused basement space at the Plaza Hotel in New York City was converted into a diverse specialty food center with engaging counter seats. With its popularity and success, the food hall began to take off. Today, there are hundreds of food halls across the United States with about 15 more planned or in construction as of this year.

We have also seen the trend reach global markets with the completion of the award winning El Palacio de Hierro, Polanco, in Mexico City. Food halls have not only become an economical solution for restauranteurs and chefs experiencing skyrocketing retail prices and rents in large cities, but they also tap into our increased interest in gourmet locally sourced food. The desire for these experiences has extended beyond commercial shopping areas and into sports arenas—going outside the typical food concession experience. We’re seeing this request from sports clients, including the Chase Center arena in San Francisco and the Los Angeles Football Club Stadium.

Recently, the Gensler San Francisco Hospitality team conducted a research study on food halls in regards to operation models, food program diversity, location, size, and more. The following post provides a snapshot of our findings.

 

Uptown Station. Rendering: Steelblue.

 

Small is the new big

Unlike traditional food courts, the sizes of food halls range anywhere from 5,000 to over 40,000 square feet. However, popular size requests are getting smaller, compact enough to fit into existing modest-size urban warehouses or ground floor space of mixed-use residential buildings. Food halls with less than 10,000 square feet (around five vendor stalls) are becoming more popular because they typically offer goods and services that really hone in on what the customer wants and offer unique food curated specifically for the demographic and its culture. Smaller food halls also offer a more intimate dining, shopping and amenity experience and promote a sense of community.

Shacking up

Food halls are becoming more prevalent in the ground floor of mixed-use residential buildings in urban areas. They are becoming a key amenity in both commercial and residential buildings, attracting tenants and residents who are looking for a place that combines live and play with reasonably priced dining and unique food options throughout the day in an approachable environment.

Dine, shop and play

Treated as a true destination for various activities, food halls are more than a place to grab a bite. Recently, these spaces have begun to incorporate unique amenities and programs for customers, local residences, and food and beverage (F&B) entrepreneurs. It’s not uncommon to find these spaces equipped with demo and incubation kitchens, event spaces, grocery stores, entertainment facilities for live music, art installations, and more.

Eclectic vs. themed

Many food halls offer diverse cuisine from independent vendors—a mixture of local vendors, larger brand and celebrity chefs. Diversity of options is one of the key factors for success. The extreme opposite is also true. From our study, we found that food halls also have success providing a specific cuisine and overall theme that creates a unique, curated experience for customers. We’ve seen food halls that are French-themed, offering a café, patisserie and creperie, and we’ve also seen a beer-themed food hall—the possibilities are endless!

 

El Palacio de Hierro, Polanco. Paul Rivera.

 

Taking dining to new heights

The layouts at traditional food courts tend to consist of a large central seating area surrounded by food stalls. This type of layout is quickly fading as more exciting food halls offer counter seating, providing guests with an immersive culinary experience. Instead of offering vast cafeteria style seating space, food halls are providing smaller, more intimate seating pockets scattered throughout the space.

Additionally, counter seating in a food hall is a popular dining and social spot for solo diners and small groups. It’s much easier to start conversation and make friends. According to the Hartman Group’s study, “Modern Eating: Cultural Roots, Daily Behaviors,” 47 percent of eating occasions are alone. Solo diners tend not to make an advance reservation; therefore, counter seats are ideal.

As the requests for food halls increase, we look forward to implementing our key learnings and being tuned into new trends as they happen.

GenslerOn | Gensler

Published by Gensler, a global design firm with 5,000 practitioners networked across five continents, GenslerOn features insights and opinions of architects and designers on how design innovation makes cities more livable, work smarter, and leisure more engaging. Our contributors write about projects of every scale, from refreshing a retailer’s brand to planning a new urban district, all the while explaining how great design can optimize business performance and human potential. For more blog posts, visit: http://www.gensleron.com.

Related Blogs

Courtesy Pixabay

November 05, 2018 | Sustainability | GenslerAnthony Brower

Our buildings and cities will have to experiment with new climate responsive forms, and in many cases, the...

Leland Federal Building

The G.T. "Mickey" Leland Federal Building in Houston. Image © Joe Aker.

October 03, 2018 | Sustainability | GenslerChris Mundell And Maria Perez

Many companies are influenced by the misconception that only some projects can qualify as sustainable.

Comcast Studio Xfinity

For Comcast Studio Xfinity's new flagship in Washington, D.C., Gensler created an engaging experiential brand program that informed the store's interior design and created a warm, social, and inviting environment. Image © Chris Leonard.

September 17, 2018 | Retail Centers | GenslerRyan Cavanaugh

One way to solve for the future is to disrupt the expected.

August 27, 2018 | Office Building Design | GenslerJanet Pogue McLaurin

The degree of open or enclosed doesn't matter in high-performing work environments. If the space is designe...

The CSU Northridge Sustainability + Recycling Center

The CSU Northridge Sustainability + Recycling Center includes a rooftop photovoltaic system, which offsets the energy required to support the building's administrative functions. Glazed, north-facing overhead windows bring in natural light that enhances the work environment for staff and creates a daylight autonomous environment. The design eliminates the need for artificial light in the building during daylight hours. Ryan Gobuty, Image © Gensler.

August 06, 2018 | Energy | GenslerAnthony Brower

The architecture, engineering, and construction industry will have to make major adjustments in the years a...

A day in the life of an ‘agile worker’

A mix of sit-stand stations and collaboration areas support agile working. Image © Gensler/John Ryan.

July 18, 2018 | Office Building Design | GenslerJane Stull

When our Gensler La Crosse office relocated last year, we leveraged the opportunity to support an agile wor...

teachers in a coLab
June 25, 2018 | Education Facility | GenslerSantiago Rivera

Known as the Teacher coLab, the rejuvenated space takes inspiration from academic incubators in higher educ...

May 25, 2018 | Green | GenslerAlicia Gomez Jimenez

The healthcare community is looking at adopting integrated care systems in which outdoor healing and therap...

Image: Gensler

May 03, 2018 | Architects | GenslerAudrey Handelman

What’s stopping us from creating more Permanent Supportive Housing? 

The shared amenity space at the Tata Innovation Center at Cornell Tech

The shared amenity space at the Tata Innovation Center at Cornell Tech. Image © Max Touhey

April 19, 2018 | Office Building Design | GenslerTom Vecchione And Erin Saven

Here are five ways that amenities can help developers and building owners attract and secure tenants by app...

Overlay Init