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So you want to build a food hall?

Food halls showcase local identity, serve nearby office and residential communities, and promote local industries and small businesses. It’s a no-brainer for you to want to include a food hall in your project. However, there are many steps to create a successful food hall. From start to finish, there are complex decisions that you’ll need to make around the design, building, curation and operation that will determine whether or not your food hall will flourish.

In this report we lay out some of those decisions and provide guiding questions on identity and brand building, design and vendor selection, and operations, all of which will help you prepare for the major milestones.

Selecting the right Operator
The report gives potential food hall developers a comprehensive look at what’s required to build a great food hall, with case studies featuring successful concepts from around the United States. For instance, the report asks, “would you prefer to open a multi-vendor operated food hall like Politan Row in Chicago which has a mix of nine local restaurants curated by Politan Group? Or, would you prefer your food hall to be run by a true tenant operator, like Eataly’s global platform, which has multiple stalls all run by the operator?”

Curating your Brand Identity
Another important factor to consider when opening a food hall is brand identity. For instance, the report breaks down food halls into four over-arching brand types; the traditional marketplace, the incubator, the convenience market, and the community-focused food hall. These broad classifications were created to help guide developers as they think about the number and type of vendors they want to have at their food hall. For example, Rock Row, one of the food halls used as a case study in the report, falls under the community-focused category. The developers of Rock Row designed the location around Portland, Maine’s large craft brewery community and history, focusing on designing a space that has tasting rooms and bars where local brewers can showcase their products to a wider audience, providing a great opportunity to scale their businesses.

Designing for Success
While a food halls brand identity will drive most of the design, it’s important for developers to consider key factors such as community space, outdoor components, vendor stall customization, and delivery options. A community focused food hall like Rock Row focuses their food hall design around local bars and breweries where as Urbanspace has cultivated an overall brand identity in their food halls while still allowing their vendors to maintain their own unique brand image.

Finding the Right Vendor Mix
Of course, one can’t forget about the food itself. The right food vendor mix is essential to building a truly successful food hall, as it will influence the overall nature and ambiance of the space. But operators need to consider whether to work with established brands or local chefs looking to establish their own brand. When curating a list of vendors, the report lists key questions operators should consider: Do you have back-ups if your first choices aren’t interested? Of those tenants you’re looking to work with, who’ll be your anchor tenant? Once the list is set, there are additional things to determine, like how should the vendor leases be structured? The report dives into these important topics and other pressing questions all potential food hall developers should carefully consider before build-out begins.

To download the full report, please click here.

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