5 Reasons Why Food Halls are the Perfect Entry Point for the Foodservice Operator

Look around and it’s possible you have seen a food hall pop up in any major city in the US. Why? Because they are epic that’s why?

Okay, maybe that is a little too general and biased but let’s take this to a practical approach and explore the 5 reasons why food halls are the perfect entry point for the foodservice professional.

#1: They meet guest demand for variety and lower price points and that is key

Guests want and desire change often. Food halls allow today’s consumer to meet a need that traditional restaurants don’t...cuisine variety.

A lot of restaurants can have a wide range of selections on their menu, however, they most likely are within a certain niche. Hard to find a menu that has crepes, ramen, sushi, and bbq on the same menu.

Food halls allow today’s consumers to find a little bit of everything. The smart food halls also offer smaller portions to encourage a more grazing style to eating. Variety is the spice of life they say and food halls allow people to explore other cuisines in a safe format.

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Shutterstock

#2: They offer lower startup costs than traditional brick and mortar restaurants

For restaurants just getting started the food hall allows you to get started without the major financial commitments that most traditional restaurant ventures require. No need to spend money on dining rooms and furniture as the food hall will take care of these areas.

You can get into a food hall concept for about a quarter of the costs that a 50-75 seat restaurant would be. That gives budding entrepreneurs a fighting chance in an ultra-competitive market like we are in now. There are some many costs that new restaurants do not anticipate that can really put a concept way behind the eight-ball before opening. Unexpected construction overruns with plumbing and electrical work, for example. HVAC installment that requires customized ductwork. Stainless steel tables. Refrigeration that can meet health department codes and more variables.

These areas of construction can quickly get out of budget really fast for new restaurants. In fact, the number one reason most new restaurants fail is undercapitalization. That usually occurs from construction costs eating up your startup budget.

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Shutterstock

#3: They allow you to refine your brand without too much risk

Food halls that are properly planned offer something that goes beyond the classic food court at a mall like we grew up with. These new food meeting spaces have become the rage in most markets since they offer food at an elevated level that goes beyond the standard pizza, Chinese food, or hot dogs offered at mall food courts. Instead, food halls offer upscale options like gourmet burgers, street tacos, poke, churros, lobster rolls, and many other ethnic specialties.

Forward thinking and entrepreneurial-minded food halls are also doing something that is exciting for new restaurant owners: they offer business coaching. Think of it as a business incubator!

Since food halls are successful when their tenants are successful, it makes sense to give people resources that perpetuate that success. Business development, branding consulting, restaurant systems, and marketing are just a few of the services that business coaching can provide.

#4: Existing restaurants can expand into new markets

“Food Halls allow an existing brand to really take their signature items to a new level. Luke’s Lobsters took the one item they are known for their Classic Lobster Roll and started rolling them out in food halls. That side business of doing what they do best brings in over $4M for the brand! says Kelley Jones of Kelley Jones Hospitality (Las Vegas.)

If you have a signature item, you should consider making a food hall concept focused on that! It can not only build brand depth, but it can also increase brand awareness. Remember that the goal is for market domination and recognition. Food halls offer a cheaper alternative to opening another full-service location.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

#5: They allow you to have a better life

The food hall experience also can provide you with a lifestyle outside of the realm of having a full-service establishment. One thing many don’t consider is that with bigger restaurants come bigger headaches. All business problems are really people problems in disguise. So, the bigger your staff, the greater the possibility of more people problems popping up.

Also, as competition grows, having a small established food hall concept means you can staff it much easier! You will see that as labor becomes tighter and people demand higher wages, the food hall concept will be a great option for restaurateurs. Small is the new big! Plus, with the lower opening costs, it becomes a prime path to grow into a little restaurant empire.

Food halls are not slowing down anytime soon. The smart restauranteur will take advantage now before the rest of the market become wise and then jumps on the food hall bandwagon. It’s always better if you can be an early adopter to trends that have staying power.

Food halls are here. Are you going to jump in?

Want to learn more about food halls? Don’t miss this recent On Foodable Side Dish episode showcasing some of Miami’s best food halls.

Whether You’re a Foodie or an Aspiring Chef, These Are the Miami Food Halls You Don’t Want to Miss

In the past few of years, there has been a powerful surge of food hall concepts popping up across the country and in late 2017 the wave finally arrived in Miami, Florida. Since then, many food hall concepts have been opening in the area especially in the first half of this year.

On this episode of On Foodable Side Dish, we meet three food hall operations featuring three very different concepts. First, we get the chance to meet Alex Cuevas, founder of Vshops—the world’s first 100 percent vegan food hall. Then, we sit down with Ruben Paredes, the Director of Operations of Miami’s first food hall—1-800-Lucky—serving up Asian cuisine. Finally, we get to hear from Kenzie Motai, Assistant General Manager of St. Roche Market, Miami —a contemporary food hall serving as a platform for up and coming chefs.

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Vshops

Alex Cuevas, Founder and CEO of Vshops is a former senior technology executive who gave up his prominent tech career in New York to pursue his true passion for sustainable food, health, and animal welfare. At 10 years old, Cuevas had decided to go vegan after he found out how animals were being treated in factory farms.

“...the way the animals were treated and then the way they were “dispatched” or put down, it was incredibly disturbing to me,” said Cuevas. “... and when I realized that my favorite foods were tied to the suffering I said I don’t want anything to do with it at all.”

Cuevas decided to open up his first Miami vegan concept, Choices Cafe, in 2011 after a frustrating trip to South Florida, where he had a hard time finding a place to eat that would cater to the vegan lifestyle he was accustomed to. Now with the Vshops food hall, Cuevas not only aims to cater to vegans, but his hope is to really impress non-vegans in order to inspire consciousness.

Check out the episode above to learn about all the different vegan concepts that reside within the Vshops food hall located in the Miami neighborhood of Coconut Grove!

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1-800-Lucky

Ruben Paredes takes time out of his day to break down for us all of the concepts within Miami’s first food hall—1-800-Lucky. Paredes, who was recruited by Sven Vogtland (one of the people behind Wynwood’s Coyo Taco), has been working in the hospitality/restaurant industry for two decades, but this is the first time he has dedicated himself to working for a concept like this one.

“I personally think that after all my years in this industry… for me, this format is the best,” said Paredes. In his words, 1-800-Lucky is a concept that provides a combination of “great food, great offerings... it’s simple, casual, it’s fast.”

Whatever Asian culinary craving a person may have, 1-800-Lucky is bound to have it for its guests. The Asian food hall provides Chinese barbecue (Lotus + Cleaver), dim sum (YIP), Vietnamese sandwiches (Les Banh Amis), traditional ramen (Hayato Miami), poke (PokeOG), ice cream (Taiyaki), and handmade sushi rolls (Myumi). It’s important to note that each food stand derives from a larger restaurant brand from across the globe.

Check out the episode above to see the food and drinks being featured at 1-800-Lucky!

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St. Roch Market

Kenzie Motai, who joined the St. Roch family in December of 2017, sat down with us to explain the concept of this food hall hailing all the way from New Orleans. St. Roch Market first opened in Miami in late February of this year and it boasts 11 unique food vendors while providing 1 central bar for its guests.

“Each vendor is a small business owner and entrepreneur,” says Motai. “We’re kind of the place you come to, to see the next up-and-coming chef in Miami before they blow up and open their own restaurant.”

As Motai explains, St. Roch Market is a historic market from New Orleans that has been around since 1875. It was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina to be made into a food hall and now serves as a great platform for chefs to start their business.

Check out the episode above to hear about the experience from a chef working at St. Roch Market food hall!


If you’d like to learn more about other concepts by Sven Vogtland, like Wynwood’s Coyo Taco, check out the video below!

Vice's Food Website Munchies to Launch Food Court in New Jersey

American Dream

American Dream

The Vice and Fremantle Media co-owned food website Munchies is branching off from the digital realm yet again and will be launching a large food hall in Meadowlands, New Jersey.

The publisher is partnering with the developer Triple Five Group to build a  food court in the 3 million-square-foot shopping and entertainment complex known as the American Dream.

The Munchies food hall is expected to open by the spring of 2019 and the team at Munchies will be hand-picking the vendors that " represent the publisher’s sensibility and deliver something that feels appropriate to the food hall’s setting," writes "Digiday."

Munchies co-founder and publisher John Martin said that like most other food courts, this one will offer a variety of culinary options. 

“I don’t want this to be really self-indulgent,” said Martin to "Digiday." “If you’re going to do a food court, there are certain things you need. You should have sandwiches. You should have pizza.”

Malls and entertainment complexes have struggled to keep up with e-commerce retail giants. 

With that in mind, mall operators are being much more selective with leasing partners. They want brands and interactive experiences that will bring in crowds. The retail stores aren't enough anymore because consumers can just go on Amazon and get what they need and it will arrive at their doorstep in two days.

"As U.S. malls have begun to feel the crunch, they are beginning to see the value in brands driving foot traffic to their spaces," said Karina Masolova, the executive editor of The Licensing Letter to "Digiday."

Will Munchies food hall bring in traffic?

Munchies has focused on other revenue streams besides making money off the website's ad space and it has paid off. Digital ad revenue used to make up 100 percent of Munchies revenue, but now it only makes up 25 percent. 

The food-focused publisher has already published a cookbook "Chef’s Night Out" and will be releasing two more in the next year. Before the meal kit company Chef'd shut down in July, Munchies partnered with the meal kit delivery service on a series of meal kits. 

Munchies is also producing shows and content for Viceland behind the scenes.

Learn more about Munchie's latest venture at "DigiDay." 

Food courts and food trucks parks continue to pop up across the country the last few years. Check out this food truck park in San Fran.