From Food Courts To Food Halls

March 9, 2016

The retail mall environment needs to learn from the city. Food halls can help.

The traditional mall has lost its appeal. There are numerous reasons why, but one of the most poignant is the resurgence of the urban center and specifically the appeal of Main Street.

Main Street is attractive again, and with it are all the things that the density of the city provides to pull shoppers away from retail-focused venues like malls. Cities offer a density of chaos and accident and a commensurate density of ideas and creativity. This is a phenomenon that even a well-planned mall, limited by its necessary focus on retail and a preset menu of activities, cannot compete with. Or can it? What can malls learn from cities, and specific to driving traffic, what can they learn from the communal spaces of the city to enhance their attractiveness to consumers?

Within the traditional retail mall, one arena ripe for reinvention is the food court. Food courts were initially envisioned as a quick recharge while shopping rather than as destinations in and of themselves. For this reason, most mall food courts are populated by bland and undifferentiated quick service restaurants (QSRs), and seating that is […]

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