Will food save the mall?
With the foodie culture currently eclipsing any fashion craze, many malls are revamping their food courts to more closely resemble trendy urban food halls as a way to drive traffic.
In a lower-key approach, Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade is undergoing a $7 million upgrade. Renamed the Gallery, the food court will feature a mix of indoor and outdoor seating options on two levels, more natural lighting and other spruced-up details.
Instead of cheap eats like McDonald’s and Chinese Gourmet Express, the mix is being upgraded to include local fast food truck fare and better-for-your fast casual, with only Subway returning as a traditional tenant. Prices range between $7 and $15 to fit with the expectations of beach tourists visiting the spot, according to QSR Magazine.
On a more opulent scale, James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Mina will open a multi-concept gourmet food hall called The Street at the Beverly Center as part of a $500 million overhaul scheduled to be completed in 2018. Including sweeping views of downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills, The Street will feature offerings from Mr. Mina and approximately 15 to 18 disparate concepts in a casual, market-style environment.
“The fare will be healthy, the atmosphere casual and the overall experience will be like no other in LA,” said Mr. Mina in a statement.
Ironically, while the upgrades are designed to help draw shoppers, food court mainstays such as Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s are investing in more growth outside of malls due to anemic mall traffic.
The new mall food halls may have to compete with the largely stand-alone food halls that are thriving in many cities. Like malls have traditionally done, food halls in many areas are acting as community gathering places.
“The customer no longer has to go to the greasy pizza shop across the way,” celebrity chef Mario Batali and co-owner of New York’s gourmet Italian food emporium Eataly, told CBS News about food halls. “The customer can come in here and on five different days, eat at five different chefs’ visions of what this food can be.”
- The Retail Revolution – QSR Magazine
- Linwood Ventures and Lincoln Property Company Transform Third Street Promenade Food Court – Linwood Ventures
- Taubman Unveils Plans for a $500 Million Re-Imagination of the Iconic Beverly Center – Taubman
- Inside Third Street Promenade’s Massive New Crowd-Pleasing Restaurant – Eater
- Food Halls for All: Transforming Dated Food Courts into Gourmet Destinations – Commercial Property Executive
- How Food Halls Are Cheapening the Dining Experience – Zagat
- How food halls are redefining the way we eat – CBS News
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can food become a significant traffic driver for malls amid the ongoing foodie craze? Are food halls a practical concept for all malls or just upscale malls?