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Mimi Sheraton, the incomparable former food critic of the NY Times recently proclaimed that the once sprawling  malls of suburbia  have been gradually decaying in existence. She then sent out the same omen to the omnipresence of food halls. It made me scratch my head and wonder. Then I came across this.  I haven't visited many food halls, but I have noticed that there is this race to create "insta" worthy food, whether or not it is delicious is debatable. So this prompts me to ask the question, what is a food start up to do?  Most  can not afford the financial burden of a brick and mortar, but want to test out their concept in a temporary space provided by real estate in a food hall. Discuss.

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The model appears to work somewhat in other countries.  I don't know anything about running a restaurant or the food industry writ large, but it doesn't seem like this should be rocket science.  To me, many obstacles cited in the article boil down to bureaucracy and greed, not flaws in the concept.  We've had so many memorable meals and interactions with locals/fellow tourists at hawker centers in Singapore/Penang, the Time Out food hall in Lisbon, and the Markthalle Neun in Berlin.

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I think the concept could work but it needs to be affordable to the vendors and guests.  Lots of the food halls mentioned in the linked story seem like they are started by big names with high costs and rules.  I guess what I'm saying is we need to try the Reading Terminal Market concept more.  With an affordable rent and vendors who are actually cooking food in small spaces and its not all high end dinning.  Reading Terminal Market is more similar to what you see in Singapore versus the Time Out food hall.  Time out does work but its much more complex and costly all around.

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On 3/15/2018 at 8:27 AM, curiouskitkatt said:

Mimi Sheraton, the incomparable former food critic of the NY Times recently proclaimed that the once sprawling  malls of suburbia  have been gradually decaying in existence. She then sent out the same omen to the omnipresence of food halls. It made me scratch my head and wonder. Then I came across this.  I haven't visited many food halls, but I have noticed that there is this race to create "insta" worthy food, whether or not it is delicious is debatable. So this prompts me to ask the question, what is a food start up to do?  Most  can not afford the financial burden of a brick and mortar, but want to test out their concept in a temporary space provided by real estate in a food hall. Discuss.

On 3/15/2018 at 9:39 AM, silentbob said:

The model appears to work somewhat in other countries.  I don't know anything about running a restaurant or the food industry writ large, but it doesn't seem like this should be rocket science.  To me, many obstacles cited in the article boil down to bureaucracy and greed, not flaws in the concept.  We've had so many memorable meals and interactions with locals/fellow tourists at hawker centers in Singapore/Penang, the Time Out food hall in Lisbon, and the Markthalle Neun in Berlin.

On 3/15/2018 at 12:20 PM, iolaire said:

I think the concept could work but it needs to be affordable to the vendors and guests.  Lots of the food halls mentioned in the linked story seem like they are started by big names with high costs and rules.  I guess what I'm saying is we need to try the Reading Terminal Market concept more.  With an affordable rent and vendors who are actually cooking food in small spaces and its not all high end dinning.  Reading Terminal Market is more similar to what you see in Singapore versus the Time Out food hall.  Time out does work but its much more complex and costly all around.

My family was very impressed with RTM during our December visit to Philly. Great mix of vendors.

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On 3/15/2018 at 12:20 PM, iolaire said:

Lots of the food halls mentioned in the linked story seem like they are started by big names with high costs and rules.  I guess what I'm saying is we need to try the Reading Terminal Market concept more.

On 3/15/2018 at 1:39 PM, Bob Wells said:

My family was very impressed with RTM during our December visit to Philly. Great mix of vendors.

The problem with the Reading Terminal Market concept (developing prime real estate in the center of a high density American city with vendors paying low rents) is that the key part of the concept is opening in 1893 - the math just doesn't work out in new projects.

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24 minutes ago, brian said:

The problem with the Reading Terminal Market concept (developing prime real estate in the center of a high density American city with vendors paying low rents) is that the key part of the concept is opening in 1893 - the math just doesn't work out in new projects.

Auckland has "food courts" in high rise developments that were built in modern history. With small ethnic type food cooked in small spaces.   

But yes making something like Reading Terminal Market work would require either a developer/owner with a desire to make it happen. Or a local government who allowed it as a replacement for some sort of mandatory art space, setback or whatever.

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2 hours ago, iolaire said:

Auckland has "food courts" in high rise developments that were built in modern history. With small ethnic type food cooked in small spaces.   

But yes making something like Reading Terminal Market work would require either a developer/owner with a desire to make it happen. Or a local government who allowed it as a replacement for some sort of mandatory art space, setback or whatever.

This kind of development is viable in most of the world - but in the US, the combination of construction costs/building codes/health codes means the startup and ongoing costs to a tenant are much higher.

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Not sure if this is helpful to the question but I found this article very interesting:

In the food space, might it be harder for a restaurant or concept to find its footing?

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On 3/16/2018 at 12:03 PM, NolaCaine said:

Not sure if this is helpful to the question but I found this article very interesting:

In the food space, might it be harder for a restaurant or concept to find its footing?

Although his reply was to my disappointment to a Cambodian pop up I attended, @DonRocks response could be an attribute to the ups and downs of food halls. It would be interesting to get one's take on the issue at hand by someone who runs a stall at a food hall. I would be interested to hear their challenges, and how they navigate around them,  to achieve sustainability in a dining landscape that is filled with so many options. 

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6 hours ago, curiouskitkatt said:

Although his reply was to my disappointment to a Cambodian pop up I attended, @DonRocks response could be an attribute to the ups and downs of food halls. It would be interesting to get one's take on the issue at hand by someone who runs a stall at a food hall. I would be interested to hear their challenges, and how they navigate around them,  to achieve sustainability in a dining landscape that is filled with so many options. 

Don't forget there are also Food Trucks as a startup (see Pupatella, District Taco, etc.)

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My opinion is food halls/trucks only work well for start ups if you offer 1 or 2 items and do them extremely well. A menu that utilizes the same ingredients not only lowers food costs but reduces comprehensive overhead expenses.

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Looks that there will be a boom of food halls in NOVA.  Urbanspace is coming to the DMV! 

This one filling in some recently vacated space in Tysons Galleria. I have already reached out to them, & will report back my findings.

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I’ve had a nice latte and scone there a couple times while getting my car serviced. It’s a cool space and I had a nice chat with the developer before they were anywhere close to fully opened. I suggested he check out The Block in Annandale as they are relatively similarly sized. There is much less interior seating though at the place in Howard. So, if it’s cold and you can’t sit outside, it’s going to be crazy crowded.

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On 11/23/2018 at 12:46 PM, ALB said:

Howard County is trying out a food hall too:

"Flavors and Cultures Merge at Common Kitchen - Howard County's First Food Hall" by Patti Restivo on baltimoresun.com

I was in Ellicott City just last week, and was actively looking for a food hall of some sort - the number of Korean restaurants on Route 40, West of Route 29, is on the rise, and despite my having capitulated to my first-ever disappointing Pit Beef sandwich at The Canopy, the true, intrepid gastronaut will be seeking out restaurants with the name of "Soft Tofu" (across the street), etc.

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