Feeling underwhelmed by the lack of range and choice available at your regular shopping centre food court? We don’t blame you. The good news is that there’s a solution out there, and that solution is food halls. How are they any different from a regular food court, you may ask? Food halls have a specific focus on community gathering and providing a large range of unique local and/or international cuisine.
The great part about food halls is that it gives restauranteurs and chefs the chance to avoid crazy rent prices in large cities, while still having the chance to engage with customers who have an interest in gourmet food. People are increasingly looking beyond shopping centres to find exciting, trendy places where they can have an immersive market-style dining experience without the traditional limited number of vendors to choose from or traditional food court layout.
With that said, here are 5 of the world’s best food halls we think are worth sharing as shining examples of this rising trend.
1. Markthalle Neun – Berlin
Markthalle Neun or Market Nine is a historic marketplace that first opened in 1891 in Kreuzberg Railway Station. Here, customers can enjoy traditional German cuisine while being surrounded by the grand sky-high ceilings and glass windows of the surrounding architecture. This food hall is a perfect example of how historic sites can be converted into lively and current gathering places where people and food come together to create a buzzing atmosphere.
Image source: Condé-Nast Traveler
2. Isetan Shinjuku - Tokyo
Isetan Shinjuku is very well known throughout Asia, however the flagship market in Tokyo is what attracts the mass crowds. Located underneath the Isetan Shinjuku Store, known for its cutting-edge fashion and style, inside you can find hundreds (yes hundreds) of artisan counters dedicated to local, seasonal produce and incredible sushi. The market is known for its opulent range and is a trendsetter when it comes to the food hall scene. The options are almost endless, giving customers more choice than they can dream of.
Image source: Bento.com
3. Mercado de San Miguel - Madrid
If you love a good hustle and bustle to get some extremely tasty food, Mercado de San Miguel is your place. The atmosphere is extremely loud and vibrant, and the food scene has a strong focus on tapas. It’s Madrid’s most visited food hall and attracts visitors from far and wide for both its food and historical significance. The surrounding wrought-iron-and-glass structure frames the marketplace and subverts the traditional shopping centre cafeteria environment.
Image source: Spain Attractions
4. Harrods Food Hall - London
Harrods Food Hall has evolved from selling just a small selection of grocery items and gifts in 1834 to now housing many of London’s finest foods. The upscale department store creates an atmosphere of luxury and grandeur with a focus on fine dining. Customers can have the option of creating their own take home hamper, so they can curate their own selection of gourmet selection of foods and/or drinks. Harrod’s has also announced the opening of The Fresh Market Hall as part of the three-year transformation of Harrods Food Halls.
Image source: Harrods
5. Reading Terminal Market - Philadelphia
Often referred to as America’s first food hall, Reading Terminal Market is also one of America’s largest public markets that has been open since 1893 in a National Historic Landmark building. The food hall boasts a mix of both locally grown produce and international cuisine, creating a fusion of flavours and experiences for customers. The variety of food from different cultures creates a diverse and welcoming environment, featuring over 80 concessions and live entertainment.
Image source: Mario Oliveto, Philadelphia Magazine
We’ve only skimmed the surface here, but what you can see even from these five examples is that food halls provide a very promising opportunity for both retailers and customers. Food halls are more than a place to eat. They are sites where food, entertainment, history and art all combine to create a curated customer experience. We will be interested to see if this food hall trend takes shape in Australia and report back on any exciting examples that we find. Until then, it’s time to go abroad and embrace your inner foodie – let’s face it, we all have one.