What is a food hall? That is the question I have debated with myself and my colleagues for the past year. With the increase of “food halls” within a North American context over the past several years, it feels that any entity that provides a meal in a fast-food environment can be titled a food hall. Oxford Dictionary defines a food hall as “a large section of a department store, where food is sold”. Well, that would remove the majority of food halls in North America if we employ that definition.
This blog has profiled food halls such as Ponce City Market in Atalanta, Grand Central Market in LA, and the recently opened Pine Street Market in Portland. All of these food halls have a similar theme, they support locally owned businesses and chefs, and do not cater to national or international chains. They also have businesses within the hall that not only provide ready made food, but culinary products and wares to take home.
So when CrossIron Mills, a nearly 1.2 million SF outlet shopping mall near Calgary International Airport announced that their new $60 million dollar, 1,4000 seat food court was a “food hall”; what gives? Has the food hall name been reduced to a point that any collection of food outlets constitutes a food hall? Even if its primary anchors are a Subway or A&W? Food Hall is a sexier name than a Food Court in today’s marketing spin.
Is it time to establish a definition for a Food Hall or is it too late?