Food Hall Design Trends – Changing the Script on Casual Dining

Dining out is more than just eating for many people. Dining is an experience – the center of many social interactions, and a form of entertainment.

While food halls are starting to gain more traction in smaller cities, they are nothing new. Food Service News wrote, “Markets featuring vendors, growers, producers and other food-related shops have existed in the U.S. for quite some time, including Quincy Market in Boston (1825),  Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia (1893), and the famous Pike’s Place in Seattle (1907), to name just a few. The modern concept of the food hall really blossomed with the opening of ‘Eataly’ in an old vermouth factory outside of Torino, Italy in 2007.”

Recently,  VIP Structures became part of these changes by announcing a new project with Syracuse Urban Partnership called the Salt City Market. The market, currently under construction and slated to open in the Fall of 2020, will include a culinary food hall, grocery store, offices, and apartments within its four-story footprint. VIP Structures’ team is serving as their Design-CM.

Consumers gravitate to food halls because they are a destination. They consist of local and small restaurants that offer unique foods from local chefs. The design of food halls is heavily influenced by the culture of the community. These restaurants are not simply cooking up great-tasting foods; they are attracting customers by delivering a unique experience and creating memorable moments.

By understanding the community as a whole, restaurant designers create interiors that attract more patrons by delivering an outstanding experience. Here are 4 design trends that tap into consumer behaviors and cater to the latest customer expectations.

Trend #1: The Experience Economy

While restaurants have a wide range of selections on the menu, it is hard to find one that will offer Asian, Guatemalan, and Ethiopian on the same menu. Food halls allow consumers to experience a little bit of everything, all in one place.

Attention is paid to every detail. In traditional restaurants, it is imperative to take into consideration thoughtful spacing between tables. However in food halls, non-traditional seating arrangements are what consumers are looking for. Times are changing and consumers want social interactions.

Trend #2: Location

Food halls have great potential to shape the neighborhoods around them. They can connect a city by bringing in different neighborhoods and offering opportunities that were not there before. They have the ability to bring more developers and tenants to the area.

With the Salt City Market, the VIP team and Syracuse Urban Partnership are taking an approach to ensure this project is inclusive and represents the neighborhood as a whole.

Trend #3: Seating

The trend in “decluttering” our lives and living spaces is affecting consumers’ preferences for their dining environments. Instead of elaborate furniture and lavish decorations, restaurant designers are paring down interiors and turning the focus to the architectural elements and locally sourced products in the space.

Unlike the usual layout of food courts, food halls offer smaller seating options such as counter seating, creating a more inclusive dining experience.

Bold statement pieces that define the character and tone of the space are replacing the visual clutter and small objects often seen in restaurants. Handcrafted pieces, produced locally, are incorporated into these spaces to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere.

Trend #4: Mobile and Digital Experience

The use of digital displays, such as LED screens, offers the opportunity to alter the atmosphere of the food hall interior at the touch of a button. Some food halls use these large screens to showcase pieces from local artists. This encourages conversation, creates engagement, and enhances the local presence.

Learn More about VIP Structures

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