By Matthew Fainchtein & Carter Magnin
With the recent revamping of downtown’s Grand Central Market and countless other projects in the works, it’s clear that food halls are enjoying a moment in the City of Angels.
Yet to call downtown LA’s Grand Central Market “new” would be a misnomer, since it’s has been continuously operating since 1917. During the last few years, renewed interest in downtown from retailers and millennial consumers’ demands for better housing, food and beverage, and entertainment options there have spawned something of a revolution at Grand Central, which underwent an extensive facelift and re-tenanting that reflects LA’s storied history and celebrates our city’s diverse population. More than 35 vendors now pack the market’s stalls, where tacos are sold alongside Thai street food, freshly-caught oysters, and German currywurst. And, of course, LA has no shortage of farmers’ markets — from the Original Farmers Market at the Grove to the collectives in Venice, Santa Monica, Silver Lake and Hollywood.
Countless new developments are in the works to bring food halls to every corner of the city. In Altadena, the city’s historic Webster Building will host six to eight food hall vendors in a 7,000-square-foot project its developer is calling “a community hub and incubator for independent businesses and startups.” On Beverly Boulevard, the 50,000-square-foot Edin Park development will host 31 purveyors and a 1,500-squre foot communal dining space; the project is slated to open later this year. And further west, Mario Batali’s 50,000-square-foot Eataly will be the centerpiece of Westfield’s $800 million renovation of the Century City Mall that’s slated to open in early 2017. The LA outpost will be the now-iconic brand’s fifth, and models what is (in our humble opinions) the secret sauce for concepts in this trend: rather than leasing individual spaces to tenants, Eataly is a single-purveyor food hall that partners with artisanal vendors to create a carefully curated, chef-driven, cohesive atmosphere for market-goers. We’re also currently working closely with a well-known landlord that’s developing an incredible, not-yet-announced new project in Culver City that will be anchored by — you guessed it – a food hall.
In our experience, a successful food hall requires three key components to succeed in LA: density, parking (!), and authenticity. Ideally, a good food hall will be situated in an area with a strong housing or office component, or both. Parking is a given — this is LA, after all — and without authenticity, a food hall just a food court. People need a vibe — and a group of fast casual restaurants doesn’t automatically achieve that. We believe it’s crucial for landlords in this space to attract one key, well-respected anchor tenant that creates great buzz around the project and attracts smaller up-and-comers to fill in the gaps.
Finally, in our experience advising both landlords and tenants, we’ve realized that food halls really are a local’s market. Something that works in San Francisco, for example, might not necessarily work here. And it doesn’t necessarily make economic sense for an independent, East Coast startup to push 3,000 miles west to launch its second outpost. To attract the kind of talent that makes food halls more than food courts, we’re advising our clients to build nearly turnkey spaces, which removes the burden on capital for tenants and allows them to do what they do best: make creative, interesting food.
Learn more on Los Angeles Food Halls by clicking on the video link below!
Matthew Fainchtein is a Senior Director, Retail Services for Cushman & Wakefield’s Los Angeles Office.
Carter Magnin is an Associate, Retail Services for Cushman & Wakefield’s Los Angeles Office.