ood Halls continue to appear all across the country, and are gaining breakneck momentum in the Washington, D.C. area. According to a report by Cushman Wakefield, there’s a reason these food halls are as popular and appealing as they are. Food Halls in North America 2018 notes how economically robust the concept is for developers and restaurant operators—they offer an ecommerce-proof product that can’t be replicated by a website a consumer is browsing while lounging in the convenience of their home. Furthermore, these food halls offer a true dining and social experience, the cornerstone value proposition of high-end, sit-down restaurants that offer patrons a sampling of local and/or global fare in an upscale setting. Pike and Rose in North Bethesda, Md. is the latest mixed-used development to offer a food hall. The recent announcement of an Asian food hall, The
Block, coming in 2019 should be no surprise. It will occupy a 500-square-foot space at 967 Rose Avenue, and feature vendors that include Pokéworks offering poke bowls, Taiwanese “SnoCream” and Asian street food, according to Bethesda Magazine. The food hall was first reported by Washingtonian and is yet another addition to the evolving and voluminous food hall scene in Metro-D.C., which includes recent and upcoming projects: Ballston Quarter (Arlington, Va.), Isabella Eatery (Tysons, Va.), Latin Marketplace (NoMa, D.C.), and Common Ground. (Rosslyn, Va.) According to Cushman & Wakefield, food halls offer a less expensive operating model to restaurants than they have currently, although the increase in food hall penetration in major urban markets is also a reason that restaurateurs will see increased competition and more restaurant failures. The $2.4 billion purchase of the building above Chelsea Market by Google, in March 2018, is another demonstration that the food hall is not just a strong value play for restaurants, but also for developers, mall operators and mixed-use developers. The food hall model is usually tasked to and operated by a master operator. This gives partner restaurant operators a model where they can show off artisan products and foods, and provide a diversity of concepts and service-style systems, ranging from urban street fare to polished, sit-down service. Typically, the master food hall operator will also provide space to gourmet markets or street vendors who can offer foods to be prepared at home, further further adding a mix to the built-in food ecosystem.
BUREDO WILL ADD A LOCATION AT BALLSTON MARKET PHOTO COURTESY BUREDO
Flexibility is key in this format, and there are a variety of short- and long-term options that the master food hall operator can provide to tenants and subtenants. “Deals often include common area maintenance charges for communal dining and/or cooking, preparation, freezer/cooler or office space.” The report notes that, in many ways,