Cushman & Wakefield’s inaugural Food Halls of America report tracks the explosive growth of food-centered retail and ranks the top 20 food hall concepts in the nation, including Grand Central Market and the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles. In the first nine months of 2016, food hall growth increased by 37.1 percent year over year fueled by consumer desire for quality and authenticity.
“No other retail category has generated as much aggressive expansion over the past few years as food-related retail – and arguably, there is no hotter trend within that category than food halls,” said Garrick Brown, Vice President of Retail Research for the Americas at Cushman & Wakefield.
As recently as a decade ago, food-related retail concepts were more about convenience than quality, the report notes. But fueled by the rise of a “foodie” movement led by celebrity chefs and ushered in by millennials, food-centered social media platforms, and culinary-focused cable channels, food halls slowly began to enjoy previously unprecedented cache, Brown said.
Carter Magnin, Director of Retail Services at Cushman & Wakefield, summed it up thusly: “Food courts are somewhere people go and eat. Food halls speak to a lifestyle.”
Coming in at No. 4 on the top 20 food halls of America list is Grand Central Market, easily the hottest new food hall project in Los Angeles. “New” could be a misnomer: The market has actually been in continuous operation since 1917, but it wasn’t until it was acquired by developer Ira Yellin in 1984 that the project began to really evolve. That evolution has been kicked into high gear over the past few years, with Grand Central Market going through an extensive process of re-tenanting and revamping its image as it attracted a new generation of young food entrepreneurs to its historic space. The explosion of multifamily growth in downtown Los Angeles over the past five years has radically changed the local landscape as new residents (mostly millennial) have moved into the area and recast projects like Grand Central Market to their preferences. The change has been so notable that, despite the fact that the market has been in operation for 99 years, it was named Travel + Leisure Magazine as one of The World’s Best New Food Halls for 2016.
Grand Central Market currently boasts 35 food and drink vendors, with notable inclusions like Sticky Rice’s Thai street food (which now occupies two locations in the market), Anya Fernald’s Belcampo butcher shop and food stand, the provocatively-named Eggslut, as well as purveyors including The Oyster Gourmet, La Tostaderia and others. The lines at lunchtime can be extremely long, but based on the crowds, well worth it.
The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles, No. 8 on the list, has been in existence since 1934 but hasn’t actually had a permanent farmer’s market on the property for decades (though it does regularly host weekend events). Currently it houses a variety of restaurants, street foods, vendor kiosks and stalls along with a fair share of mostly tourism-related retail shops. While Los Angeles’ other current top food hall destination (Grand Central Market) may boast a mix of authentic and/or chef-driven food concepts, the Original Farmers Market’s lineup is mostly about comfort or street food. But it is also directly adjacent to one of the world’s premier lifestyle shopping centers—The Grove. It is also in close proximity to CBS Studios and so has been a major tourism draw for decades.
“These food halls are both iconic and historic projects that people feel are genuine and authentic,” Magnin said. “But they’re getting a modern update with the new tenants and buildouts while still staying true to that collaborative community experience. In this modern day and age of technology, there’s still a yearning for people to experience the past.”
The success of the food hall concept in Southern California has not been limited to Los Angeles. Noteworthy food halls in Orange County include: 4th Street Market – Santa Ana; The OC Mix at SoCo – Costa Mesa; LOT 579 – Pacific City; The Packing House – Anaheim; TRADE Food Hall – Irvine; Union Market at Kaleidoscope – Mission Viejo; and Union Market at The District – Tustin. In addition to these projects, Orange County has the largest number of active food hall projects of any “suburban” market currently being tracked by Cushman & Wakefield.
Garrick Brown said, “Orange County has been way ahead of the rest of the country in terms of suburban markets embracing what has been, until now, pretty much an urban trend. That is starting to change but food halls in Irvine, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and throughout Orange County have been thriving for quite a while. We expect to see more of these projects being developed throughout all of Southern California down the road.”
So what does the future hold for food halls? With 18 more projects slated for delivery across the nation before year end, the appetite for food halls won’t be decreasing any time soon.
“We’re going to see more food halls and we’re going to see more modern amenities,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s Matthew Fainchtein, Senior Director of Retail Services. “They’ll have an online presence, delivery service, maybe an association with Uber or Lyft, whatever it may be. There’s an opportunity to elevate these places to the modern age but they’ll have to balance being on the cutting edge while not feeling contrived as they compete with institutions in the community.”
To view the full Food Halls of America report and video, click here.
Questions? Connect with our local market experts:
Senior Director, Retail Services
+1 310 595 2234
Director, Retail Services
+1 310 595 2203