STORES Magazine - April 2018 - 20
Key Food Hall Trends - Europe
* Demand for European food halls has been consumer-led.
* Travel-savvy younger generation has been a key driver.
* European consumers have become more engaged with food through
celebrity chef culture.
* Artisanal and independent food vendors are the bedrock of new food halls.
* Tourism has been an important demand generator but establishing local
custom is crucial.
* Communal eating has gone from acceptable to desirable.
* Dwell times are increasing but only if a diverse food and drink offer is
* High-quality food is a must and value for the money.
* Wide variety of locations from city centers to former industrial zones.
* Most food halls/markets have reused existing spaces, but some venues
have been purpose built
Source: Cushman & Wakefield, The Rise and Rise of European Food Halls/Markets
"If you have a 5,000-square-foot food hall in a
new high-rise in Washington, D.C., for example,
renting space for $60 to $70 per square foot upstairs
suddenly becomes easier," he says. "But demand at
every level - tenants, operators and developers -
will ensure that food halls keep getting built."
It should be noted that the growth of food halls is
also a matter of definition, according to Alan Napack,
senior director of the retail services group at Cushman
& Wakefield, who told attendees at a recent meeting
of the International Council of Shopping Centers that
some projects are merely food court upgrades.
The definition of what constitutes a food hall is
still being debated, but it's generally accepted that the
"foodie culture" - including the farm-to-fork and
slow food movements - is largely responsible for
kickstarting the modern food hall concept.
"Millennials are a big part of it but so is the
STORES April 2018
push for experiential retailing," Brown says. "The
biggest buzzword is 'authentic.' That's why massmarket commodity chains have struggled to get loyal
Millennial consumers. It's emblematic of a bigger
problem. If you can't give people a great experience
in the age of ecommerce, then all that's left is pricing.
That's why the middle of retail is getting squeezed."
He says food halls are attractive due to low failure
rates. "In our tracking we've only found two that have
closed, while the failure rate for restaurants is about
30 percent in their first 18 months."
Therefore, some observers see food halls as a
replacement for standalone restaurants as well as
supermarket prepared food departments. A major
reason is the amount of capital that's needed.
"Startup costs for standalone restaurants are huge in
high-rent cities like New York or San Francisco with an
average lease commitment of two years and as high as
10 years," Brown says. "In food halls, you might pay a
higher rate per square foot, but the foot traffic will be
exponentially greater than a standalone location."
Food halls also are less risky for small
entrepreneurs, who can often get month-to-month
rentals at a number of properties.
Celebrity chefs like Mario Batali, Todd English and
Lidia Bastianich have successfully put their marks on
the growing food hall business, and it's likely that more
chef-driven projects will find their way into major malls
that are looking for a brand name. But a brand name is
not necessarily the formula for success.
In New York, a massive Asian-inspired food hall at
Pier 57 on the West Side spearheaded by author and
celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has apparently been
spiked after three years of snags in leasing and problems
getting visas for the desired Asian vendors who would
provide the authenticity that Bourdain demanded.
Some observers are questioning how far and where
food halls can be expanded. Among the issues are
finding adequate space and a facility that can be
refurbished to accommodate multiple, independently
owned foodservice operations; how vendors are
chosen and how to control the quality of their
offerings; whether food halls can compete with
supermarkets and local restaurants for a steady trade
or are doomed to be largely tourist attractions; and
if food halls can build traffic to a point where they
become economically feasible and profitable ventures.
On the plus side, food halls bear little resemblance
to the standard fast food fare at most malls and have
become a destination for increasingly demanding
consumers who shy away from processed fast food
in favor of a wider variety of foods from vendors
that focus on fresh ingredients from local sources.