More than ever before, New Yorkers are expecting an experience and a story from the restaurants and markets they frequent. It comes as no surprise that the top culinary destinations are showcasing international design, local neighborhood history, and vintage ambiance more than ever before. Imagine being surrounded by top chefs at work in open-kitchens, creating the world’s finest cuisine with fresh ingredients and fiery aromas … now that smells like a recipe for success! New Yorkers want to be a part of an exceptional, one-of-a-kind experience unique to the Big Apple. Restaurateurs and Landlords are answering this call with the growing influx of food halls as the next Retail food trend.
Similar to the classic international concept, these upscale dining centers feature gastronomy from top chefs with distinctive offerings and a plethora of options at our fingertips. The selections are chef-driven, presenting the best of each cuisine, all under one roof. Equipped with communal seating, diners can share a table in a relaxed social setting that encourages collective conversation.
"New York City is a real foodie town, so it comes as no surprise that there is growing popularity of high quality and chef-driven Food Halls. Food Halls are a great way for restaurateurs to promote their brand and expand their concept without all the overhead usually associated with opening and operating stand-alone restaurants."
Andrew Rigie, Executive Director, New York City Hospitality Alliance
Customers are placing huge importance on knowing where their food is coming from and if it satisfies an ever-growing list of dietary restrictions and specific diets (gluten-free, vegan, low-sodium, Paleo, etc.). People are very specific about what they want, don’t want, and what they will ingest these days; therefore restaurants and markets must adapt to accommodate these particulars. The popularity of the open-kitchen has evolved into the food hall, now comprised of several differing open-kitchens and an eclectic variety of offerings. We are seeing more restaurants go the extra mile to highlight the story and origin of food, its creators, and preparation.
With Eataly and the Plaza Food Hall having set the bar years ago, we are seeing more and more variations of the food hall concept. Some examples include Brookfield’s World Financial Center, The Gotham West Market, and the lease just signed by Urban Space (the food hall manager behind Mad. Sq. Eats, Broadway Bites and Dekalb Market), whom has signed a long-term lease for 10,000 square feet of retail space at 230 Park Avenue (set to open in early 2015).
“With rents at an all-time high, this model has taken off by consolidating concepts to smaller footprints versus the larger traditional freestanding restaurant. While the offering of multiple cuisines started with midtown delis, restaurateurs have found a way to adapt this model to a higher-end operation that creates multiple revenue centers within one space. This has lowered the price per square foot overhead and allows people access to a much wider variety of food within one space.”
Greg Grossman, Principal, Culinaria Group
Many of the elements of the food hall are already present and successful in NYC retail. For example, Le Pain Quotidien was an innovator with communal tables, small plates, and a variety of takeaway options. The restaurant industry has heard the consumer’s demands and are evolving to meet these needs as fast as the economy will allow. Food halls are undeniably the next step in the evolution of the NYC restaurant experience.
Alexander Hill, Senior Director of Eastern Consolidated’s retail leasing division expertly negotiates terms for both landlords and retailers—and has completed transactions totaling over 300,000 square feet of retail space throughout the city.