San Francisco Food Hall Shutters its Doors

Even with the explosion of food halls throughout North America, not all are successful.  The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Second Act Marketplace in the Haight neighborhood has closed its doors after two-and-a-half years of operation:

Since the marketplace and adjacent events space replaced the movie theater in January 2014, owners Jack and Betsy Rix leased five kiosks to a rotation of local vendors. Within the past several months, however, there has been an exodus. Burma Bear, Crepe La Vie and Raw all departed in the spring; a new vendor, a Korean joint named Volcano Kimchi, was slated to open this month.

According to the Rixes, who also own the building, the final straw came last week, when Anda Piroshki decided to leave as well. Anda (pronounced “ai da”) has been a tenant since Second Act opened and is the last operating business in the market. Its owner, Anna Tvelova, told them that a rent increase in her commercial kitchen — unrelated to Second Act — was the reason for the shutdown, which will take effect Aug. 28.

Instead of undertaking the task of repopulating all five kiosks, the Rixes will close Second Act. The events space will remain open while they look for a new operator.

“Basically we had an amount of turnover that was unsustainable for us,” Betsy Rix said. “It was already getting difficult to find new tenants, and finding four to five tenants was not happening.”

second-act-storefront

Second Act Marketplace

Unfortunate that an early adopter of the Food Hall concept in San Francisco is no more, but there are some telling signs from previous tenants, with one stating that they just weren’t receiving the daily foot traffic required to run their business.  Location will always be key for a Food Hall or Marketplace, especially when they are attempting to establish themselves with a new concept.  Food Halls do best when they follow a certain criteria that includes:

  • Access to a consistant tourist base;
  • There is a strong mix of residential and office population in walking distance;
  • There is capacity in the Food Hall to have a critical mass of vendors who provide a wide array of food and drink;
  • Limited competition within the trade area;
  • Various modes of transportation (pedestrian, bike, transit, car).  Also, where are people going to store their bikes and cars while in the Food Hall?;
  • The vendors can be supplemented with other uses, whether it is retail, entertainment, recreation, etc.;
  • The space itself has to be welcoming from a design perspective, to allow people to flow through effortlessly from ingress to egress.
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