There’s no end in sight to the food hall trend, but as competition grows, new concepts have to go beyond the standard formula—local vendors, industrial-chic spaces and millennial-friendly tastes—to show why they’re worth visiting. These food halls are adding a new spin with nontraditional locations, community amenities and diverse retail options.
New York City
Claiming to be the first fully privatized project developed in NYC’s subway system, Turnstyle converted an underground 30,000-square-foot tunnel at a busy Midtown subway station into a food hall. “It may not seem like an obvious place [for a food hall], but the key to all retail is traffic—and 90,000 [people] use this passageway every day,” says Susan Fine, principal and president of the real estate firm that developed the site.
Even with high volume, Fine says Turnstyle only works if its operators can get people to stay and not rush through like commuters. The mix of about 40 stalls was intended to offer something for everyone, with a variety of eateries—from vegan fare to Lebanese food and mini doughnuts—along with retailers, including a florist and a dog accessories shop. The space features interactive columns where diners can take selfies to send to themselves and post on social media. It’s not just for fun; the touchscreen kiosks help marketing efforts—sending themselves a pic automatically adds customers to Turnstyle’s email list.
The retail element
Denver Central Market
Part upscale market, part gourmet food hall, Denver Central Market takes a page out of Eataly’s book with vendors that serve a variety of food for on-site consumption and options to prepare at home. But unlike the single-vendor Eataly, all stalls are independent, comprising new concepts or offshoots from local purveyors.
Not so urban
Uptown Urban Market
Unlike many food halls, Uptown Urban Market opened in a mostly residential neighborhood to offer a hangout for area patrons. In addition to its foodservice offerings, the market has a “community room” that can be rented for private events, meetings and restaurant pop-ups.
More with less
The Bowery Market
New York City
Never mind the threat of harsh winters—the open-air Bowery Market operates year-round. It makes the most of its small yet prime real estate by cramming five huts into a 1,000-square-foot area. Rotating vendors include Sushi on Jones and Italian sandwich shop Alidoro.