Have you been to a food hall? It seems as though most people I’ve asked recently answer no. Based on the numbers, that answer will soon change. The growth of the food hall trend has been quite astonishing. According to a report from Cushman & Wakefield’s national retail research team, in 2013 the number of food halls across America sat at just about 40. By 2016 that number had reached 120. Recent estimates put the number of food halls across America at 350 by the end of 2019!
Not to be confused with a food court, food halls are a collection of small, locally-developed restaurant concepts or new creations from local chefs and entrepreneurs. Food halls typically offer a nice variety of retail stores as well but unlike a food court where the shoppers support the food, at a food hall the food supports the shopping.
Kansas City first jumped into this trend in September 2018 when Parlor KC opened up in the Crossroads district. Parlor KC offers six different restaurant concepts with two bars set amongst a stylish urban setting. The space is divided into sections, such as the den, living room, dining room and breakfast nook. The space has a covered rooftop patio that offers great views of Kansas City.
The Lenexa Public Market opened a while back and has been a big hit with the locals. The market is owned and operated by the city of Lenexa. The market features a mix of local food and non-food merchants. It is accompanied by a common area and outdoor seating. The farmers market, city hall, and community rec center are also nearby. The success of the Lenexa Public Market has gained the attention of developers across the country who are looking to it as a model for future projects.
Downtown Overland Park is next up to join the food hall trend. Strang Hall is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. Strang Hall is located in the heart of downtown Overland Park and is set amongst the Edison District development. The Edison District boasts office space, retail shops, as well as an outdoor space and currently has 4 culinary concepts as well as a bar. Strang Hall has a unique twist to the food hall concept. Rather than sign a lease, the chefs will work for the Edison District. They will keep total control over the menu offerings but will save on the cost and risk of opening a new business.
The Mission Gateway development at Shawnee Mission Pkwy and Johnson Dr is also planning a 40,000 sq foot food hall. The Mission Gateway project will be curated by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio whos 5 James Beard Awards brings hopes of some great new food options to the Kansas City dining scene. The development will also feature a live concert venue and rotating art installation.
It’s safe to say that the food hall trend is starting to peak in Kansas City. With all of the different options spread across the city, I’m sure that this time next year most of the people I ask about food halls will have visited one. Happy Eating KC!