Food Halls Arrive in Charleston
- The food hall trend arrives in Charleston.
- With the market almost at full occupancy, centers are upgrading tenant mixes with better credit and concepts.
Food Hall Trend Arrives in Charleston
Food halls, like its suburban cousin, the mall food court, are an ensemble of restaurants in a central location with a communal dining area, yet are going a step above your typical fast-casual restaurants. Food halls are fostering the growth of entrepreneurial chefs and start-up restaurants by reducing the cost of opening a brick-and-mortar site. The concept, popular nationally in primary markets, is a part of the larger experiential retail trend and is beginning to appear in the Charleston market. Food halls have evolved in larger cities from outdoor markets to indoor, serving fewer raw ingredients and more finished, specialty food products. Popular food halls include Eataly, Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, Pike Place Market in Seattle and Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. Success of these food halls has led to several smaller scale versions in cities like Atlanta, Raleigh, Washington, D.C., Houston and Dallas.
The food hall trend took off soon after the recession in 2008 as an opportunity for start-up restaurant concepts to build their brand. Food halls can have multiple locations such as Eataly with locations in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago or a single location, owned by a company, that leases stalls with different levels of efficiencies such as access to a shared kitchen, private kitchen, or preparation station. The restaurants leasing spaces in these venues are new, local restaurant concepts with a focus on providing an experience to customers by offering specialty foods and drinks that blend the healthy, local foods trend with cultural experiences.
Food halls, although not a new concept nationally, are to the Charleston market. The first to open in Charleston was Mercantile at The Cigar Factory in 2015, the second is the recently completed, Pacific Box and Crate project on King Street. The project is 130,000 square feet of office space including a 10,000-square-foot food hall. The food hall, called Workshop, has six start-up restaurants: Bad Wolf Coffee, JD Loves Cheese, Kite Noodle, Slice Co., Pink Bellies and Juan Luis. The trend is spreading with other food halls planned in the market.
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