As more and more consumers search for convenient but quality food options on the go, food halls have been popping up across the country. Interestingly the concept, just a derivation of the traditional food court, has been around for years. Attracting developers, restaurateurs, and consumers alike, this new breed is different from the age-old food court—these concepts are local and curated. Whether it’s celebrating a city’s culinary diversity or sticking with a specific cuisine, there’s something for everyone. They’ve become destinations and an elevated design is definitely a factor why.
In the heart of Times Square, the trendy hotel Row NYC embraces the best of New York with an urban, contemporary experience. The brand set out to revolutionize the typical hotel stay by creating a progressive dining experience where fast food and fine cuisine come together under one roof. Inspired by the home kitchen and appropriately named City Kitchen, they cultivated Times Square’s first interior food hall. The 4,000 square foot space located on the second floor of the hotel lets guests, local residents, and visitors experience the most buzzed about restaurant hotspots from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, City Kitchen features nine permanent food concepts as well as seasonal vendors. It’s an eclectic, New York centric mix including: Mexican fare from Gabriela’s, Lebanese specialties from Ilili Box, burgers at Whitmans, ramen at Kuro Obi, lobster rolls at Luke’s, sushi at Azuki, and artisanal doughnuts and coffee at Dough’s.
The urban style food hall is the perfect balance between modern and nostalgia—a crisp utilitarian aesthetic married with a cozy ambience. The open, industrial space incorporates white subway tile, reclaimed wood, silvered mirror, and marble. Italian glass chandeliers, warm lighting with bronze accents, and floor-to-ceiling windows create a homey feel, while counter seats line the windows giving a bird’s eye view of the bustling Times Square.
“Row NYC appreciates that people in this neighborhood are seeking genuine and honest food, and that is exactly what City Kitchen brings to the table,” says Heidi Avedisian, the brand’s market curator and interior designer. “We searched the city for authentic and dynamic vendors across a variety of categories and tasked them to pair down their menus to the ‘best of the best.’ The result is a menu of crave-worthy options, cherry-picked for both travelers and the locals who know these purveyors so well.”
While single foodservice concepts struggle to compete in today’s market, those in food halls might just have it figured out. Reportedly high performing food halls can produce up to ten times the sales of a traditional restaurant. Why? With built in foot traffic, they’re not just relying one experience, instead delivering a collective. Many of the food halls today are embracing a rotation of restaurant concepts, which help to appeal to today’s fickle consumer with something new to always bring them back. As consumers continue to prove interest in spending on experiences, these multi-mix food halls fit the bill.