A new style of dining is sweeping the nation, from New York to San Francisco to Dallas and now Houston. Here we look at the upscale food hall trend and its economic benefits for commercial property managers, restauranteurs, and construction.

A Brief Introduction

Food halls are based on the traditional European marketplace, and recent U.S. food hall projects can be compared to an upscale food-court.  One can expect to find locally sourced food, restaurant and retail kiosks and shared dining space. Food halls make it easy to socialize while enjoying local, artesian fare. Guests can roam from vendor to vendor, choose to sit down at a table or pull up a chair at a community style table.

CBRE attributes the U.S. success of food halls in part to the slow food movement and an increasing consumer interest, particularly amongst millennials, to know what goes into making the food they eat and where it comes from.

Recent U.S. Food Hall Projects

According to CBRE, over 25 food halls are under construction or in the planning stages nationwide.  Notable food halls include:  "The Market" in Dallas, opened in 2015.  At 26,000 SF it contains a mixture of local specialty and artisan food vendors, coffee, brews, indoor and outdoor seating areas, and four anchor restaurants.  San Francisco's historic Beaux Arts Ferry was renovated and completed into a 65,000 SF hall. Atlanta created a 9,000 SF mix-use space in a reclaimed warehouse with 27 retails spaces.

Image from CBRE Article, Click to View Source

Image from CBRE Article, Click to View Source

Food Halls Slated to Open in Downtown in 2018

In Houston, underground garden and beer hall, The Conservatory, opened in 2016 with 7,500 SF of space, and according to Houston Culture Map, at least three (3) new food halls are slated to open in downtown Houston in 2018.  

One example is Bravery Hall, a 9,000 SF space curated with five restaurant concepts under one roof, each with their own chef-owners and dining experiences.  As traditional to the food hall model, each curated concept will be separately owned and will sign a lease for space within the chef hall.  Bravery is set to open in summer 2018 as the anchor retail tenant at the new Aris Market Square, a 32-story luxury high-rise located across from Market Square Park in downtown Houston.

Food Halls Housed in Historical Buildings

Several food hall concepts are housed in historic or repurposed spaces, including San Francisco's historic Beaux Arts Ferry and the Atlanta food hall in a reclaimed warehouse.  Houston food hall, The Conservatory, was once one of Houston’s first cinemas established 1912.  Other examples include Los Angeles' Grand Central Market, a staple since 1922, but always revamping to stay up to date. Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market opened in 1892 and still operates today after years of renovations.  

Repurposing older buildings is “a holistic approach to creating a 'new' space while preserving the old and paying a tribute to the history.”  Food hall designs typically encompass large open floor plans, with natural and reusable materials that reflect the quality of food indicative of the food hall trend. 


Increased Utilization, Rental Income & Traffic
Whether new construction or renovations, having a building that can support multiple vendors and a large volume of visitors will help increase rental income for property management firms and building owners.

Trendy, downtown Houston food halls are ideally suited to cater to office-workers for lunch-time business and happy hour, as well as late-night and weekend diners and partygoers.  This extends the income generating hours and exposure for both the food hall venue and tenants, particularly when compared to a traditional downtown "food court," which is limited to weekday-lunch only business.

No One Size Vendor
Food halls provide brick and mortar to vendors who normally may not be able to afford their own space. The halls also don't require "one look" or vendor aesthetic so building managers can lease space to a wider variety of tenant concepts, creating multiple income streams.  The rental model for food halls is proving to be a win for property managers and tenants alike.  As a reference, the "The Market" in Dallas is currently at 100% capacity for its retail space.

Increased Demand for Walkability & Local Vendor Concepts
Commercial high-rise tenants and downton residents alike increasingly look for walkable locations to enjoy locally sourced goods. Those interested in locally and naturally sourced goods also generally have higher disposable incomes and are willing to foot the bill for quality ingredients.


Houston Construction / Renovation Projects
With food halls being a culinary and retail trend, three projects slated for Houston in 2018, and noting that food halls typically occupy repurposed and older spaces, downtown Houston may see an uptick in food-hall-related renovation projects. Houston also has a high vacancy rate for older, open warehouse spaces with central locations, key for food hall venues.

Value for Building Owners, Restauranteurs & Retailers
Food halls are expanding the income generation potential of previously underutilized spaces for property managers and business owners. Food halls are also making it possible for new restaurants, concepts and construction ideas to form and bring together the conveniences of the old with the luxury of the new.  Commercial high-rise property management companies, restaurateurs and retailers alike are our clients, which influences our interest in this trend.


For more information and additional source articles, please see links below.

The opinions expressed by Garrison Construction Group, LLC do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Colliers International or any other resource cited within this post  

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