Harrod’s Food Hall in London, which opened in 1849, is credited as the world’s first food hall. But the food hall trend has only just started to pick up speed in recent years. In the last decade, hundreds of food halls have popped up around the world.
Not quite a restaurant, but more elevated than a food court, these gastronomic destinations combine dining stalls, communal eating spaces, and craft beer.
Vendors often sell farm-fresh groceries, quirky kitchen décor, and specialty cookbooks too — products you won’t find at your local grocery store.
Some prominent food halls have gained major buzz on the global food scene: Time Out Market in Lisbon; Torvehallerne in Copenhagen; Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne; Lafayette Gourmet in Dubai; Siam Paragon Food Hall in Bangkok; and St. Roch Market in New Orleans. The list goes on and on, spanning nearly every continent.
With the rise of foodie culture, evident from hit shows like Top Chef to the ubiquity of #FoodPorn on Instagram, consumers are increasingly seeking authenticity, quality, variety, and community from their dining experiences.
Cushman & Wakefield’s 2016 Food Halls of America report found that food halls “offer what millennial consumers want to eat and that is authentic, quality food.” It’s the same reasons why food trucks became so popular: people crave delicious food and novel experiences at an affordable price.
Top-tier restaurateurs and chefs are also attracted to this environment. Since 60% of restaurants fail in their first year and 80% fail before their fifth, it’s an attractive proposition. Tenants share overhead expenses, meaning more players can be physically present at a high-profile venue for a fraction of typical rent costs.
Food halls are more than just somewhere to eat; they’re an alternative gathering spot where diners can enjoy a meal while they soak in the hustle and bustle of a busy market.
So next time your stomach’s rumbling, whether you’re on the road or at your desk, make your way to the nearest food hall. America’s newest, hottest food halls are a good place to start.
Image provided by Walter Tyler.