Above: The District Kitchen in Jersey City is the closest we’ve seen to being a true “Food Hall”.
Some ask “why am I seeing an article about food on a history website.” Well, history shows up in strange places. As I sat in a new food court in Toronto, Canada, I realized that this is a new concept to challenge the traditional food court. Well, it’s winning! Read on….
It’s not a food court like you see at the mall. A fairly new concept, the food hall is bringing chefs together that couldn’t own their own brick and mortar, and bringing them together under one roof to create a new dining experience. It’s called a food hall and it’s taking America by storm.
A Sense of Community
Who ever thought that dining can be a community experience. The dining planners have figured it out and the new age food halls have done an awesome job at maximizing spaces with the community in mind. Once you see one you’ll get the idea. Many of the food halls are taking the food truck concept and bringing it inside. Just imagine a bunch of food truck chefs getting together in a old industrial building, cleaning it up, and working together to bring a great eating “experience”. Food halls are an experience – and you’ll love it.
In the United States alone, food halls have grown from 70 to over 400 in just the last few years. But the concept is still quite new. Poised to be strong in urban areas where lots of young people gather, the concept can absolutely work in suburban areas as well. It’ll just take someones vision and commitment. Think about Bernardsville, New Jersey for a second. If they decided to convert Quimby Street into a food hall concept, people would come from all over the state to experience the food hall concept. It’s just different, exciting, and yes- entertaining. Bring in some outdoor music, and you have a venue destination.
“Even if you’ve been here 10 times, you walk in and you’re discovering something different,” said Phil Colicchio, a consultant with the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, as he led correspondent Faith Salie through a food hall. “How is a food hall different than a food court that we’d find in a mall or an airport?” Salie asked. “The food court was never really designed to give you an experience of any kind,” Colicchio replied. “It wasn’t designed to make you say, ‘Wow.’ In a food hall, all your senses should get activated. Lots of variety, lots of artisanality.” “What is artisanality?” asked Salie. “Does that mean ‘fancy’?” “No,” Colicchio said. “You know what? It means ‘not corporate.'”
While traveling to Toronto for work, I experienced over a half dozen food halls. Why just go to one restaurant when you can visit 10? It’s as simple as that. I could go to one place when the weather is bad and walk in, grab a beer at a bar, then go get some Dim Sum at one stop, and Atlanta fried chicken at another with a side of artisan garlic mashed french fries at yet another. Then I sit with my friends and collegues and have a unique meal.
Some of the food halls have a unique way to pay to make it easier as well. You enter the facility and get a credit card. You hand in your card at each kiosk as you go from appetizer to dessert. Then you just pay one price when you leave. How great is that?
Where is the Food Hall in the Somerset Hills area?
Where is the food hall in the Somerset Hills area? Answer; Nowhere. While the first to the market is going to lead the way, you have to travel to Jersey City to experience a food hall. The District Kitchen in Jersey City is the closest we’ve seen to being a true “Food Hall”.
How about You?
Have you experienced a food hall yet? Not a food court, but a food hall!