The 4 Food Hall Typologies

Two weeks back I conducted a Food Hall Demographic Analysis where I analysed the locations of 33 popular food halls in the United Sates.  I came away with an understanding that certain food halls prefer to locate in certain areas of a city.  The composition of these food halls are also different depending on their location.  After further research, I have aggregated food halls into four distinct typologies:

1) The Upscale Downtown Food Hall:  Examples: Chelsea Market, LatinCity, UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, Todd English Food Hall, The Plaza Food Hall, Revival Food Hall, Chicago French Market, Eastern Market.  The Upscale Downtown Food Hall is glitzy and modern.  It has large financial backing and is typically located in an architecturally historic building that is well-known with locals.  Food vendors are a mixture of popular upstarts and stalls run by famous chefs.  These food halls are located in major U.S. cities such as New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C.  The surrounding residential area is dense with higher-than-average income profiles  The Upscale Downtown Food Hall markets itself to high-income earning local residents, local employees for lunch and after work drinks, and a wide range of tourists.


Todd English Food Hall, New York City – Image credited to The Plaza NY

2) The Casual Downtown Food Hall: Examples: Pine Street Market, 4th Street Market, Ottenheimer Market Hall, Melrose Market, Grand Central Market, Market House @ Nashville Farmers Market.  The Casual Downtown Food Hall is similar to the Upscale Downtown Food Hall but more understated.  It is located in revitalized and renovated older buildings in the downtown core.  Financial backers are typically local investors.  These food halls typically are smaller in size with 8 to 20 vendors.  Food vendors are primarily upstarts or new concepts by popular local chefs and restaurants.  Many food vendors are those who have upgraded to their first bricks and mortar location, using the space as a business incubator. The surrounding residential area has below-average income profiles due to the socio-economic status of many local residents in a downtown setting.  The Casual Downtown Food Hall markets itself to local residents, local employees for lunch and after work drinks, and foodie tourism.


Grand Central Market, Los Angeles – Image credited to Bon Appetite

3) The Industrial Edge Food Hall: Examples: Krog Street Market, Union Market DC, Anaheim Packing House, Mercado La Paloma, Industry City Food Hall.  The Industrial Edge Food Hall is located on the periphery of downtown, where land uses are current or former industrial sites.  The neighborhood is “up-and-coming”, going through revitalization and gentrification with new business ventures, start-ups, and multi-family residential.  These food halls are typically located in repurposed industrial warehouses or manufacturing buildings.  The location allows rents to be cheaper than Downtown Food Halls, so food vendors are able to get in at the ground floor before being priced out as the area grows.  The surrounding residential area has below-average income profiles, but due to gentrification, this is continually changing as the area redevelops.  The Industrial Edge Food Hall can be seen as a catalyst for urban renewal in these areas.  It markets itself less to tourists than the Downtown Food Halls, and more to the local residential population and local employees.


Union Market DC – Imaged credited to

4) The Suburban Food Hall: Examples: Liberty Public Market, Central Food Hall @ Ponce City Market, Midtown Global Market, The Market Hall (Addison), Portland Mercado, Avanti Food & Beverage, East End Market.  The Suburban Food Hall is a trendy community hub, employing many characteristics of the other Food Hall typologies, but catering to suburban populations of major cities such as Dallas, Minneapolis, Portland, and Orlando.  It can be located in either a stand-alone building or a mixed-use development that incorporates residential, office, and education.  These food halls are located along major arterial roadways that have high visibility and traffic counts.  Due to their suburban nature, they require high parking ratios as the majority of customers will arrive by car.  Food vendors are a mixture of upstarts or new concepts by popular local chefs and restaurants.  The food vendors are supplemented by retail offerings and public markets.  The surrounding residential area is fairly low density in comparison to other Food Halls, but they are well established neighborhoods with many rooftops.  The Suburban Food Hall markets itself to local residents and a daytime workforce.



Portland Mercado, Portland – Imaged credited to Travel Oregon

I will be aggregating this Food Hall study into a full article that will be published in the next few weeks.

Have a good Labour Day long weekend!    

Kimbal Musk Taking a Leap with Urban Farming

Urban farming seems to be a hot trend over the past year.   And you know the concept has some traction when one of the infamous Musk brothers is attempting to capitalize through a business venture.  Kimbal Musk, the brother of Tesla and SpaceX’ Elon Musk is attempting to start-up an urban farm and incubator hub called “Square Roots”.

According to an article from Inc. Musk is setting up the urban farm prototype in Brooklyn, New York, and he hopes to roll it out across North America if it proves to be a successful model:

Each food entrepreneur will have access to a mini farm the equivalent of two acres of land, but the gardens are built vertically in a shipping container, taking up less than 320 square feet. They are climate-controlled and hydroponic, allowing for a year-round growing season using 80 percent less water than an outdoor farm.

“The aim with the campus is to create an environment where entrepreneurial electricity can flow,” says Peggs.

Entrepreneurs will be trained to grow hydroponic, non-GMO food year-round and sell it locally, assisted by technologies like Freight Farms–which makes tools for fresh food production–and ZipGrow–which facilitates vertical farming. Musk hopes to roll this model out to other cities, saying each campus can contain between 10 and 100 farms.

The overall idea is that Square Roots will allow entrepreneurs to develop their vertical farm start-up into an actual business within the incubator space.

I know many urban farms that have started up in previously used industrial buildings, harnessing the large warehouse areas for hydroponic farming, but this is one of the first large-scale endeavors to grow produce in shipping containers.  The containers will be located within an old Pfizer factory in Brooklyn.  With such a large glut of shipping containers in North America (due to higher volumes of imports than exports), this makes a great re-use of the containers.   I do wonder whether the shipping containers could be located outside, or they are required to be within an industrial building.  We have already seen shipping containers used as housing and shopping spaces, but urban farming seems like a logical choice if you can properly maintain the temperatures required.

Combined with his previous venture of a farm-to-table restaurant, it seems that Kimbal Musk is attempting to become to food sustainability, what his brother is to cars and space exploration.

Square Roots Urban Farm - Imaged credited to BusinessInsider

Square Roots Urban Farm – Imaged credited to BusinessInsider


Highly Anticipated Revival Food Hall Opens

Today was the big day in Chicago.  Revival Food Hall opened up in the historic National Building after months of anticipation.  I suppose I should be planning my next visit to Chicago soon….

The website Thrillist gives a pretty good rundown of many of the intriguing food shops that are at the 24,000 square foot Revival Food Hall on opening day.

Eater also conducted and released an interview yesterday  with the food halls masterminds, Craig Golden and Bruce Finkelman.  In regards to others starting up a food hall, Golden stated in the interview that “it’s not particularly a real-estate driven concept.  I know they’ll find challenges in a lot of different buildings with who they’ll put in and how they’ll make it work.”  Very interesting point, and very true.  It is not a simple retail store or office space that relies purely on real estate market forces.  Food halls are extremely specific, require highly-strategic layouts, a strong mix of vendors, connections with the local culinary community, a well thought-out business plan, proper marketing, and an accessible location among other items.

I look forward to reading about the feedback Revival receives over the next several weeks.


Revival Food Hall Opening Day – Image credited to Chritiques

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 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.

Food Access in Suburban Denver, How Lakewood is Going All-In with Urban Farming

There was a great article in the Denver Post last week on the City of Lakewood, CO and how they have partnered with the University of Colorado to investigate and create a strategy “in order to increase production, availability and consumption of locally grown, affordable and healthy food”.

A little bit on Lakewood first.  It is a city of about 150,000 residents directly SW of Denver.  It’s median household income is $53,000, below the State average of $58,000, and well below Metro Denver’s $63,000 median household income.  More than 10% are below the poverty line.  It isn’t as wealthy as other cities in the Metro Denver region, especially those in the NW portion.  It is a working class suburban type of city.

I visited Lakewood back in 2010 when I was doing work for the City and County of Denver.  Nothing of significance stood out now that I think back six years ago, except for Belmar, a very cool and progressive mixed-use development that took a derelict shopping mall and transformed it into a suburban community hub of retail, dining, residential, office, and entertainment.  The former Villa Italia Mall was razed, and the 104-acre site became an urban, pedestrian friendly downtown for a city that never had a central meeting place.


Belmar, Lakewood, CO – Image credited to

The project has become a huge success, with over 2,000 residents in the master development, and businesses that employ more than 3,000 employees.  Lakewood was one of the pioneers in suburban mixed-use town centers that now dot the North American landscape.

Lakewood is now pursuing something a little different, but just as innovative.  Sprout City Farms has become a success story in Lakewood, providing upwards of 2,5000 pounds of food annually from their urban farm, into the hands of local residents who have limited access to fresh produce.  This has led to the partnership with the University of Colorado, to investigate the sustainability of food production in the city, and how “the city could facilitate an increased production of local food”.

The results display:

That many Lakewood residents must often travel several miles to get to a grocer to have access to fresh food. Students mapped areas of opportunity that had potential for a community garden and discovered that if the city used all of its available parcels for urban farming, it could grow more than 91 million pounds of produce each year — enough to feed 90 percent of the city’s population.

I’m unsure of whether “available parcels” are undeveloped lots that are both public and privately owned, or only city-owned.  For this exercise, lets assume it means city-owned. Obviously many of the available parcels of land that are under city control can be used for higher and better uses, such as affordable housing, commercial development, community space, parks, etc.  Some may also not be suitable for urban farming. If only 25% were implemented as urban farms, you could still generate 23 million pounds of produce.  Not too bad at all.

As I had discussed in a previous blog post, many of these vacant lots can be used as temporary farms.  Then once there is a more desirable development use for the land from an economics standpoint, the urban farm can be moved to a different location within city boundaries.  Policy must be set to ensure that if an urban farm is under operation, the land cannot be developed for another use until a suitable site is chosen for replacement.


Sprout City Farms – Image credited to FarmShares

The City of Lakewood will now take the study from the University of Colorado and decide how to move forward with the information.  It will be intriguing to see what occurs over the next few years knowing that the City has shown innovation in the past from a development perspective.  This could very well lead to a similar legacy for planning staff and council.


City Foundry Food Hall & Market in the Plans for St. Louis Development

Cortex and The Lawrence Group, a design-build company headquartered in St. Louis, MO are expanding on their their plans for the Federal Mogul site in Midtown St. Louis.  The site is just down the road from the Midtown IKEA and has been in the planning stage for several years.  It was once envisioned as a basic commercial strip center, but Cortex and The Lawrence Group have released plans that display a full-scale mixed-use development with commercial, office, and residential components.  The entire development could cost almost $250 million USD when all is said and done according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Feast Magazine earlier this week released details on the commercial piece in this article.

According to Feast, the commercial space will be titled “City Foundry Food Hall & Market”, and will include up to 24 food stalls and 3 to 5 full-service restaurants.  In addition to the F&B, there are also plans for 40 retail spaces that would support the culinary offerings.  Some of these retail spaces could sell food items or cookware, but the majority are to likely be non-food related.  City Foundry could open as early as Fall 2018.

The developers have brought on a culinary consultant who is acting as “director of culinary services”.  The consultant, Brad Beracha, who operates a restaurant in St. Louis spoke with Feast Magazine regarding the types of food vendors they will be looking for and the types of concepts that could be at City Foundry:

“Going back to the spirit of innovation and what this building has done since 1930, we really want to get some of the best concepts in the city to come and do something different,” Beracha says. “We don’t want people to just take what they’re currently doing and put it in the food hall – we want to have something that people can’t get anywhere else in St. Louis. It’s challenging the entrepreneurs to get creative and innovative themselves with what they want to offer within the space so that we can create a culinary community moving forward”

This comes back to the blog post I had posted last week regarding the Food Court vs. Food Hall debate.  The developers have entrusted Beracha in curating interesting new culinary concepts for the Food Hall, rather then taking the easy way out and putting in a few local famous chefs and filling it up with local/regional chains.  If planned in a way that Beracha has discussed above, the Food Hall could very well become a great culinary destination in St. Louis.

The initial rendering looks great with high ceilings, lots of windows to allow outside light, and living green walls interspersed along the side.


City Foundry Food Hall & Market – Image credited to Feast Magazine



Urban Farming and Food Hubs in Michigan

Detroit has quickly become one of the leaders of urban farming in North America.  With such a large amount of vacant land in the city due to blighted property, former industrial lands, and uninhabited homes, there is ample availability to transform these sites into indoor and outdoor urban farms that grow produce year round.  Many investors have been striking deals with the City of Detroit over the past several years to acquire properties for localized urban agricultural uses.  This includes fields, hydroponic farms, greenhouses, and processing facilities.

In 2015, Inhabitat reported that Detroit was home to more than 1,000 community gardens, which typically supply food either free or at a low cost to food banks and community groups for distribution.  Local community farming has become so popular, city planners and council are becoming continually involved in figuring out how much land should be allocated for urban farming uses, making sure to keep vacant land available for other commercial uses.


Small-scale Urban Farm in Detroit – Image credited to


Where it gets interesting is that there are now local entrepreneurial for-profit organizations that are sprouting up around Detroit and throughout Michigan due to the proliferation of urban farming.  Food hubs have increasingly become established to collect and distribute produce within the local communities.  The thought process is that many smaller farmers have a difficult time getting their product to stores and markets, so food hubs become the connection point between the grower and consumer.  Many large scale agricultural companies have their own distribution networks, so food hubs fill the role for smaller local entrepreneurial enterprise.  Stores and markets who would rather obtain fruits, vegetables, and other local goods (rather than out-of-state items) can connect with food hubs to obtain a wide variety of local food on a consistent basis.  Food hubs can also connect restaurants to local goods in a manner that would be much more difficult and time consuming than in the past.  In short, food hubs gather and distribute local food to local markets in a highly efficient manner.

One of the largest food hubs in Michigan is located in Traverse City, Michigan which is approximately 4 hours NW of Detroit.  Cherry Capital Foods tagline is “we put the to in farm to table”, aptly describing how they connect the dots between food producer and consumer.  From the Cherry Capital Foods website:

Cherry Capital Foods is a unique food distributor based in Traverse City, Michigan. We work with farmers, growers and producers both locally and regionally but only from the state of Michigan.

By focusing on local and Michigan sources, we encourage the growing focus on regional foodsheds as well as support the Michigan economy and environment. We keep duplicate trucks off the road and create efficiencies for our food providers and our customers. One refrigerated truck, one delivery, one invoice – multiple, independent food sources.

Cherry Capital Foods is primarily a food distributor, helping our customers and our farmers figure out how to source local food and how to provide local food to the marketplace. We help customers find specific Michigan products and also help producers find unique customers. We help our customers educate their guests and shoppers about which farms they are buying from, as we keep all farm products separate in our warehouse and inventory.

Our product categories include:

  • Produce: fresh vegetables and fruits. Many fruits also offered frozen and dried.
  • Proteins: tofu, beef, veal, pork, lamb, rabbit, chicken, duck, turkey.
  • Eggs: chicken, duck, quail.
  • Dairy: milk, butter, and cheeses from cows, goats, sheep.
  • Value Added items for both retail and food service.
  • Wine (through our sister company, Up North Distributing).

The Cherry Capital Foods 60,000 SF warehouse and distribution center is located in a renovated hockey arena, a very innovative transformation of space since both previous and current use requires high levels of refrigeration.

Michigan previously was not the first place to come to mind when discussing local agribusiness innovation.  There is really a great entrepreneurial spirit that has come about over the past 5 to 7 years due to tough economic times for many of the cities and communities throughout the State.  It has forced them to be innovative and think outside-the-box.  There are things that are happening in Detroit and around Michigan that need to be studied, as there are applications and implementation techniques to be put into use in other similar cities who require economic diversification, food security, and entrepreneurial growth.

1028 Market and The Hall in San Francisco

When War Horse and Tidewater Capital purchased 1028 Market Street in San Francisco several years ago, the building occupying the site was previously used as a billiards hall.  Rather than let the building sit empty while the development group went through a lengthy rezoning, entitlement and development approvals process, they decided to implement a very cool  food hall, event, and community gathering space.  It is a temporary use project to keep the site active.  Think of it as a longer term pop-up culinary space.

“The Hall SF” launched in 2014 and has become a popular fixture at 1028 Market Street.  Although the building is not very large (less than 10,000 SF all-in), there are six rotating independent vendors, a liquor license allows for beer, wine, and spirits, and the entire Hall can be rented out for private events, weddings, corporate product launches, etc.  What is really innovative about hosting an event at The Hall is that all food and drink is catered by the vendors, providing a very unique and diverse menu to attending guests.


The Hall SF Interior – Image Credited to TheHallSF 

From The Hall SF website:

The Hall is the perfect venue for virtually any type of private culinary event.  We have communal tables for parties of 6-10 indoors or out, standing bar tables for happy hour events, and the capacity to host up to 150 for a wedding celebration or corporate get-together. Events can be built around sit-down dinners, drinks & canapés, hands-on culinary classes, wine tasting/education—just about anything related to eating and drinking. We welcome you to enjoy a personal tour of our space to see what we have to offer and to inspire ideas for your next event!

Since The Hall was always planned as a temporary use project to keep 1028 Market Street active during the planning process, once demolition begins, it will have to move to another location.  The developer is already looking into other locations for The Hall, but it remains to be seen whether it can be relocated within the neighborhood.  The Hall could potentially move back into 1028 Market Street once the mixed-use development is completed, but again, nothing is set-in-stone yet.  I’m sure to local residents, they would love to see The Hall re-emerge and become a permanent fixture so that it can continue to “Harness the Power of Food to Build Community” as their website states.

Due to The Hall’s relatively small footprint in comparison to many other Food Halls in the United States, it would only require a small anchor space or the amalgamation of several small inline retail units.

Overall, The Hall is a great success story of temporary space being utilized by a developer.  It provides a new revenue stream to the developer while they wait for their development entitlements.  It provides budding chefs and culinary entrepreneurs a temporary space to try a new concept or start up their business.  It provides the community with a cool hangout spot.  It activates the street rather than a blank wall or empty building.


The Hall SF Outdoor Patio – Image Credited to TheHallSF


A Produce Park for Local Residents in Louisville

In a previous blog post, I had profiled the West Louisville Food Port in Louisville, Kentucky.  The Food Port will be a transformative Culinary Oriented Development that will focus on everything from farming and processing, to culinary education and retail.

It was recently announced that a community orchard aptly titled “Produce Park” will emerge across the street from the Food Port.  Why have derelict lots just sit empty in neighborhoods that are in need of revitalization?  Why not use them for community uses?  Louisville is progressively putting together a catalyst project with Produce Park, a community-oriented orchard that will provide the local residents with a central gathering space that will provide fresh produce annually.

From Insider Louisville

A partnership between Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government, the University of Kentucky, architectural firm Gresham Smith & Partners and the nonprofit Louisville Grows has turned a once-vacant lot into “a garden of Eden,” said Valerie Magnuson, executive director of Louisville Grows.

Produce Park is a community orchard and garden that is located at 437 S. 30th St. across from the future $56 million West Louisville FoodPort. The park, which Louisville Grows will maintain, will feature fruit trees, fruit bushes and shade trees. Several small peach trees already are bearing fruit.

“There’s going to be a tremendous hub right around here around creating local food,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, noting that the area is “about ready to take off in a huge way” when workers break ground on the food port this fall.

Produce Park is meant to serve as a gathering space for nearby neighbors to hang out, and residents will be able to pick any food that grows there, creating access to fresh fruit including peaches, cherries, apples, strawberries and plums in an area of town that qualifies as a food desert.

The City is using a $30,000 grant from the Bloomberg Fund to initiate the development of Produce Park.  Louisville Grows will fundraise the additional funds needed for supplementary items such as signage, bike racks, continued upkeep, etc.   Government and private grants such as the Bloomberg Fund are likely going to be the incentive required to get these types of projects started.  A question I raise is whether they should be included into the budget of parks departments?  Especially if they are a public use.

It will take several years for fruit trees to start producing fruit, but the seeds are in the ground you could say.

This neighborhood is increasingly becoming a hotbed for culinary based functions, with Produce Park, the planned Food Port, and the popular incubator Chef Space which is Louisville’s first kitchen incubator for budding culinary entrepreneurs.


Culinary Institute of America Expansion into Napa

The Culinary Institute of America Greystone campus in Napa Valley, California is one of the premiere centers for culinary education in North America.  Located about 20 miles NW of downtown Napa, the 120,000 SF campus is located within a beautiful building that was previously used as a winery, and is well over 100 years old.  The CIA has seen continued growth in its programs over the past decade, and the requirement for more space.

This has allowed it to purchase a building in downtown Napa that was previously the home to Copia (The American Center for Food, Wine and the Arts).  Copia, although quite interesting in concept, had incurred a tremendous amount of debt and closed in 2008.  The CIA will be using the 80,000+ SF building for a satellite campus of Greystone, which will house many components including:

  • CIA School of Food Business
  • Demonstration Kitchens
  • On-site Restaurant
  • Retail (cooking equipment, culinary books, specialty foods)
  • Outdoor amphitheater
  • Event space for culinary events, weddings, private corporate events, etc.
  • Public outreach and education

Current Copia Building – Imaged credited to

Last week, the CIA received approval from the Napa Planning Commission for renovations and the transformation of the Copia building.  A full renovation is expected to be complete by 2017, although various components will open earlier, with the restaurant expected to open in Fall 2016.  The project is officially titled CIA at Copia.  This will be a great example of a Culinary-Oriented Development that brings together culinary education, restaurant dining, retail, event, and entertainment space.

The site is adjacent to the very cool Oxbow Public Market, which is like a scaled-down version of Vancouver’s Granville Island, or San Francisco’s Ferry Building.  Oxbow Public market has approximately 20 merchants ranging from the obligatory wine and cheese, to  modern Japanese and charcuterie.

Oxbow Public Market – Image credited to

The combination of the Oxbow Public Market with the new CIA at Copia will create a true culinary destination for people visiting downtown Napa.  I’m sure the economic spin-offs for the City of Napa will be very beneficial in the long run.