An Iteration of the Times and Trends
Food halls aren’t new, they are a 20th century iteration of ancient bazaar markets. I remember my uncle taking me to Fortnum and Mason’s Food Hall in London 30 years ago and standing gawk-eyed, salivating at the cheeses, handmade chocolates and charcuterie, (not much has changed there). Hawker centres are the South East Asian iteration, and cookie-cutter food courts in any mall in Australia are the ‘western consumption spaces’ iteration. The New Food Hall is an indoor market that offers effortless non-design (or sleek design) and mini restaurants hand-picked a by a food-culture insider, (culinary curator).
The New Food Hall’s birth is a product of a number of economic and culinary trends – a stagnant economy, a resurgence in ‘downtown’, urban renewal construction disrupting high street retailers, rising wages and rents, urban densification, the need for employment and affordable small business models for migrants and refugees, start-up and running costs of a food truck, consumer demand for healthy fast-casual food, millennials’ deep pockets and the relentless search for new food experiences.
The Birth of Food Halls in Australia?
While there are logistical headaches for councils to overcome, small business owners and developers in other countries have embraced the lower risk of these shared spaces. Customers queue to buy $10 lunches from local celebrity chefs. Cabravale Diggers club’s 600 seat, journey down the Mekong River, District 8 Dining and Food Hall perhaps demonstrates the beginning of this food revolution in Australia.
In March 2016, Americans spent more money dining out than they did purchasing groceries…The trend has repeated itself every month since.
Food Halls of America
Cushman & Wakefield are the world leaders in Food Hall development. Their 70 page Food Halls of America Report was released in 2016 and provides an account of the research and impetus for the trend plus case studies of their 35 Food Hall projects across America.
More Reading on the US Food Hall Renaissance
The trend has only really just begun… projects that are wide in their site selection process… that build resonance with consumers based on the values of authenticity, quality and community will be the ones that experience the greatest success.
Characteristics of the Food Court Vs Food Hall – My Take
Viktoria Darabi is a Food Culture Tourism Whisperer, Food & Beverage Trendspotter & Futurist, championing the power of food culture activities to celebrate multi-culturalism, promote social cohesion, engender a sense of community pride and to transform or construct ‘place’ to define a destination’s identity and distinctiveness.