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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#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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#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.

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#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.

Shake Shack Leads the Way with Local Sourcing by Partnering with Craft Beef Curator Crowd Cow

The future of the fast casual segment is quickly becoming a race to the farm!

More and more brands are seeking solutions that are starting to shift the supply chain integration on how they go to market with new menu items and new approaches when it comes to handling the demand of the new age consumer.  

Shake Shack, for example, has been one of those pioneers in bringing local products and connections to their burgeoning brand that experienced a 28% growth in total sales in 2018

According to a recent study by Foodable Labs, both local and better-for-you food items are key trends that are rising in a specific group of consumers in the 25-34 demographic. These consumers are seeking more local menu items vs other demos. They are also ordering more better-for-your menu items. There are three very clear demographics fueling the better-for-your menu demand. The18-34 demographic is leading the way and the 55+ is trailing slightly showing this trend is on a clear track to impact brands over the next decade in key spending demographics of Baby Boomers and the Gen Z and Y consumers.

Percent of Conversations

Total Conversations around local menu eclipsed 318K in the past six months with Better for you hitting over 422K in the same time period. (source foodablelabs.com)

Shake Shack is taking this queue from consumers seriously with their partnership with the Craft Beef curator Crowd Cow, a company focused on bringing local farmers and their artisan proteins to the foodservice markets.  

In my conversation with Jeffrey Amoscato, vice president of supply chain and menu innovation at Shake Shack and Joe Heitzeberg, co-founder at Crowd Cow in the video above they clearly were on the same page in reaching the new consumer with a whole new strategy for locally sourced beef. As we see emerging brands looking to improve this sector of their menu and supply chain you can get a clearer picture of what you’re up against in this episode.  

Make sure to reach out to us if you have a show idea or you have a recommendation for guest on one of our Foodable Network shows! Or tweet me @paulbarron!

Food Out Loud: GMO Questions and Answers

The use of GMOs has been a hotbed issue in the U.S. for many decades and there are strong concerns happening on both sides of the conversation. For me historically, I have been against GMOs , I have taking part in protests and advocated against the spread of GMOs in our food ecosystem. But, working here at Foodable, I am often questioned on why I feel they way I do. Sometimes I simply do not have all the answers.  I realized that when it came to GMOs I was in a bit of an echo chamber, only talking to people who were on my side of the argument. So I started to think about what I didn’t know.

One of the biggest arguments for GMOs is the idea that we need them to feed a growing population. I realized that I don't understand enough about what it takes to feed the world, let alone what it will take to feed future generations. I also did not know exactly what was considered a GMO and how present they are in the food we eat every day.

With that in mind,  I decided that I wanted to try to find someone who was an advocate of GMOs to ask them some of the basic questions that I just simply do not have the answers to.

In this episode, I speak with Leia Flure, a GMO advocate who writes for a site called “GMO Answers.” Leia is a registered dietitian based in Champaign, Illinois. She is also an educator, has a psychology and a nutritional science degree, and is a mother - so she has to truly believe that GMOs are safe and useful. And that was what I was looking for. Someone who did not have a horse in the game, someone who did their own research and came to their own conclusions based on her own research and education. She has decided to write for “GMO Answers,” which is a partially funded by GMO companies, but her conclusions are her own.

If there is a takeaway for me from this discussion it is that we may have to separate the science from the practices of some of these companies. We all know the case of Dewayne Johnson vs. Monsanto and how that turned out. Of course, this validates a lot of my viewpoints on GMOs and the damage they can cause to people and the environment. So does the bad really outweigh the good?

This podcast may upset some hardcore proponents against GMOs and I get it, I didn't dig in and barrage my guest with rage against some of the points that I don't necessarily agree because it’s important to keep an open dialogue. But rest assured this is not a topic that I am done exploring because it is not a topic that we have come to final conclusions on. So please shoot me an email or a tweet and let me know what questions you have and I will continue this conversation.

Research by:

Nathan Mikita

Nathan Mikita

Director of New Media/Producer


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52 Percent of Shoppers are Buying More Plant-based Products

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Although a lot of turkeys are being consumed today, more consumers are embracing a plant-based lifestyle.

According to yet another study, 52 percent of U.S. shoppers are eating more plant-based foods and beverages.

Apparently, these consumers don't think this is just a fad diet either.

In the study by DuPont Nutrition & Health, 60 percent of those surveyed plan to keep the switch to plant-based foods permanent because they feel healthier being on this diet.

“There is a seismic shift occurring in eating habits globally, creating a significant market opportunity. Most important, our research reveals that for most consumers, this has moved beyond experimentation into a permanent change brought on by health, lifestyle and social factors,” said Greg Paul, DuPont official in a press release about the study.

Read more about the Dupont study at “bizwomen” now.

This year, there have been multiple studies reporting similar findings.

According to Nielsen, 40 percent of Americans are trying to eat more plant-based foods.

Kimpton's 2019 Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast by Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants group said that the plant-based movement is going into overdrive in 2019.

Plant-based sales reached $3.3 billion this year, as reported by Nielsen.

But that's just the beginning. The plant-based industry is expected to be worth $5.2 billion in sales by 2020, according to Oregon-based Allied Market Research (AMR.)

When tracking social data pulled from Foodable Labs, we saw that plant-based consumption is up by 300 percent over the last year. Specifically, 51 percent of chefs have added vegan menu items to their menus this year, which is a 31 percent increase from last year.

Learn more about the plant-based movement and how it is here to stay in the video below.

How This Firm Became One of the Biggest VC Funds in Food

As consumer tastes continue to evolve, the more demand there is for high-quality healthier products.

With that in mind, these suburban moms turned venture capitalists are on a mission to bring healthier packaged food brands to the masses.

Both Lauren Jupiter and Jordan Gaspar used to be in grocery aisles as “the people who read the nutrition facts, the people who read the ingredients in the two different products sitting next to each other on the shelf" and decided to launch the investment firm AccelFoods to help grow small packaged food products they believe in.

Found in 2013 with only $4 million, the firm now has three separate funds of $85 million.

The fund and the companies it backs have been a success because consumers have changed the way they shop at grocery stores.

They want “cleaner labels, more transparency, not having ingredient panels that are 60 items long and full of words that you can’t pronounce,” said Jupiter.

Today's buyers are willing to invest in higher quality products that are better for them. Food is now seen as fuel to millennials, the better the fuel or food, the better performance of the engine or body.

"The Baby Boomer generation that’s aging and looking for natural alternatives to traditional medicine...the millennial mom purchasing on behalf of her family and investing in allergen-friendly foods...digital natives who are willing to invest more heavily into the food they put in their bodies than even the house that they sleep in,” said Gaspar.

Read more about the firm and how it's fostering the growth of smaller food product companies at "Forbes' now.

Earlier in the year, we spoke to Gasper about how the firm is disrupting the industry with its companies in its portfolio offering innovative food products.

Listen to this episode of The Barron Report below, where host Paul Barron speaks with Gaspar about trends and what types of companies AccelFoods seeks to invest on.