Building food halls seems to be a current trend, especially for shopping centres, as they try to attract customers. According to Technomic, 45% of consumers say they visit food halls more often now than two years ago, which shows how popular they have become.

The main idea behind these food halls is to give groups of people a place to eat together across multiple small format eateries with stunning recipes. This differs from a food court, as they usually have large fast-food chains rather than small independent businesses that create everything from scratch.

There are different ways of creating and designing a food hall, as there are a variety of experiences that can be offered to customers. Whether it’s offering a large amount of food options, having unique entertainment or incorporating retail, food halls can give customers an experience that is not easily found elsewhere.

This article will take a look at how to create a successful food hall and how businesses can create a unique experience that can appeal to a wide range of people.


Affordable Food

Having a strong gourmet selection that is easily affordable can be a huge key to success when creating a food hall. Driving away from the fast food theme of food courts that prevailed in the old format can offer customers a better and healthier range of choices. This has created a specific identity for food halls, which is why they have become so popular in the modern age.

Affordability is one of the biggest selling points no matter if it’s for food, clothing or other amenities. Independent start-up food vans and stalls are often what’s found inside of a food court and these are usually more affordable than food court selections with more established chains. These types of food are often great ways to improve your everyday health as they are usually made fresh.

Shopping centres are an example of establishments that have opted for the installation of more food courts and food halls. Courts are far more common in shopping centres, as larger established businesses will pay to get a slot inside of them which is how these centres can make a profit. If they want to incorporate food halls, they need to stick with the start-up food van feel.


Bar Scene

Food halls don’t just have food vans and stalls, they usually have multiple bars to add to the customer experience. Holding a liquor licence allows these food halls to operate for longer hours and boost their night time economy. It also allows customers to enjoy a nice, cold alcoholic beverage while they eat.

The types of bars that can be incorporated into a food hall can be endless, as there are so many possibilities. From beer houses to wine rooms, the more variety of bars the better as it’s important to have something for every demographic. The aim should be to create a broader customer base by having options for those who just want food and those who want drinks, or both.


Unique Entertainment

Creating a non-traditional environment that has a dynamic atmosphere is very important for the success of a food hall. Incorporating unique forms of entertainment can be the perfect way to create an environment that attracts customers, as it offers something that customers may not have done before.

Depending on how lively and loud you want the food hall to be, you could have DJs or live music to keep everyone entertained. Hatch in Manchester is the perfect example of this as it is a food hall that is seen as more of an outdoor bar. There is music playing at all times with live performances later in the evening to keep customers entertained.

There are plenty of other entertainment options that can be incorporated into a food hall, such as dancing classes, play areas, ping-pong parlours, axe throwing and more. The shopping centre in Leeds offers entertainment options like axe throwing as well as unique bars to attract new customers who are looking for new activities.


Local Retail

Including retail stores inside a food hall can also be beneficial as it offers customers an even wider selection of things to do. Merging and blurring the lines between food and retail can be great for profits, as either before or after dining customers can take a quick look at the retail options. This makes it a multi-purpose day out similar to how shopping centres are managed.

Just like the food will usually be from independent local companies, the same can be done for other retail amenities. Having a local start-up clothes business inside of a food hall can be great for the community to better get to know and form a trusting relationship with the brand. Mainstream retailers can be found anywhere, so having local retail is a great way to keep yourself different from any other options.

Knowledge Staff

Having staff that have had previous experience working inside a food hall can be very beneficial for the everyday operation of the establishment. The modern customer is very interested in getting to know more about the local food, so having staff that can help teach them can help form healthy relationships with customers. 

Describing how a project began and its journey can also make customers feel more connected to the company. This is especially important for start-up companies to help them flourish in a unique environment.


Sustainability Focus

Younger generations are very sustainability conscious, which is why modern food halls have started to offer greener options for customers. Being eco-friendly is already a good and moral thing to do, but if it attracts more customers then it is definitely a bonus. Food halls can have recycled packaging, use LED lighting, minimise food waste, install energy-efficient equipment and reduce delivery carbon emissions.

Having locally sourced ingredients is a great way to maintain a sustainable food hall, which is easy to incorporate as local food businesses are more likely to source food locally rather than getting them outsourced from overseas.