Not yet. According to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield, between 2015 and 2020, the number of operating major food halls will triple to 300 in the U.S. alone. In the UK, this year we learnt about the new, impressive Market Halls food halls will open on Oxford Street, and in Fulham and Victoria. When will consumers tire of this concept?

With no sign of slowing down, it seems demand, for a time, is outstripping supply. But how long can it go before the tables turn and people get tired of the format? And what comes next?

people at bar

The landscape

Currently, in the U.S., there are 44 food hall projects slated for completion through to 2020. These generally range from 10,000 to 50,000 sq. ft., but the largest go over the 100,000 sq. ft. mark. A good example of that is the Lotte Food Avenue, at the Jamsil department store in Seoul, South Korea, a 140,000 sq. ft. food hall that has reported 40% like-for-like growth since reopening.

Across the U.S. and the UK, developers are working out how to incorporate a food hall into their mixed-use, from the proposed giant food hall at the in-development Battersea Power Station, London, to Market Line Hall in New York.  By completion in 2020, The Market Line will be NYC’s largest food market, incorporating 115 food vendors and re-housing the 70-plus year-old Essex Street Market, bringing Shopsins, Saxelby Cheesemongers, and Luis Meat Kitchen and many more to the new location.

It’s not just big cities that are getting food halls, either. The Focus Group are planning a 19,000 sq. ft. food hall as part of their planned three-story development in Reno, U.S. and Queensberry Real Estate are planning to implement a food hall for Sheffield, UK, as part of their £470m redevelopment plans for the city centre.

Why are they so popular?

Options. If you’re in a group and you’re trying to coordinate plans for dinner, it makes sense to take them somewhere that caters for all tastes—something that is possible at a food hall, rather than going to one restaurant where compromises have to be made.

A second reason is that F&B in 2018 is all about entertainment, experience and spectacle. As John Brod, partner of ABS Partners Real Estate says: “I can’t think of a more ‘experiential’ retail experience than a food hall—which in addition to ‘interactivity’ appears to our senses of sight taste and smell. The food hall experience hits all the important levers. Additionally the food hall has become a destination for tourists. Walk into Eataly or the Grand Central Market at any time and you will hear a multitude of languages being spoken or someone taking pictures or selfies.”

Finally, as freelancing, start-up and co-working become a larger part of the broader employment culture, food halls—with their communal, welcoming seating—offer a space for individuals and groups to work and linger before their next meeting.

 

After food halls

The majority of food halls that are publically in the planning phase at the moment are due for completion around 2020. This means that the common view of what a food hall is/should be extends roughly two years.

For the foreseeable future, the broad concept of the food hall is not going anywhere. They are only becoming more popular as the concept diversifies. Beyond the two year mark, we could expect to see food halls go in a number of directions. A good example of this is the DEN Food Hall which is coming to Manhattan, and will be offering a fully plant-based list of operators.

Salad bowl

Another idea could be to have a food hall owned by one restauranteur/developer. One such concept is Lincoln South Food Hall in Bellevue, Washington, led by veteran Las Vegas restaurant developer Jeffrey Frederick, founder of Elite Brand Hospitality Group. This contains concepts including pizza, tacos, bao, sandwiches, burgers and poke.

Finally, where out-of-town supermarkets are struggling to work out what to do with their unused space, they could turn that space into a food hall, drawing an expanded audience to their store, increasing dwell time.

The future is bright for the food hall. Long may it delight. Get in touch today if you would like to discuss your food hall concept with us.

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